Examining the summer arrivals set to join Alabama
Spring camp provided a first look at a little more than half of Alabama’s incoming recruiting class as 15 early enrollees began their college careers with the Crimson Tide. In a couple of months, Alabama will welcome in the rest of its class as 13 summer enrollees are set to join the program.
Here’s a look at the players Alabama will be adding.
Nick Saban played a role in developing NFL Hall of Famer Jason Taylor’s career with the Miami Dolphins. Now, the Alabama head coach will look to mold one of Taylor’s proteges. Dallas Turner, who played under Taylor at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., brings the same elite pass-rushing threat as the former Dolphins great.
Listed at 6-foot-4, 245 pounds, Turner will likely move into the Jack linebacker role at Alabama where he will give the Tide another talented edge rusher to add to its loaded arsenal at the position. Despite not having the advantage of arriving early, the five-star freshman has a decent chance of earning early playing time this season.
The rich are only getting richer. Heading into the spring, Alabama already had perhaps the nation’s deepest running back unit featuring six backs all rated at four stars or higher. Now the Tide is set to bring in the top back in this year’s class.
Camar Wheaton has all the tools of a premier back at the next level. The five-star talent possesses game-changing speed and has the ability to make opponents miss in open space. He’ll likely need to add to his 5-foot-11, 190-pound frame. However, he’ll have plenty of time to do that as he learns behind a loaded backfield.
Damon Payne moves extremely well for someone of his size. The 6-foot-4, 297-pound defensive lineman has the ability to disrupt the passer from the interior similar to departing standout Christian Barmore. Payne has the versatility to play both the end and tackle positions at Alabama depending on the formation.
The Tide’s depth on the defensive line could limit his reps this season. However, the four-star pass-rusher should make an early impact during his college career.
JoJo Earle is arguably Alabama’s most anticipated summer enrollee. The dynamic receiver was one of the biggest surprises of this year’s class as he flipped to the Tide from LSU after being committed to the Tigers for nearly eight months.
Earle played alongside current Alabama sophomore running back Jase McClellan at Aledo High School in Texas. During his three-year varsity career, the speedy receiver recorded a combined 4,984 yards of total offense while recording 39 touchdowns through the air and 26 more scores on the ground.
Earle has drawn comparisons to departing receiver Jaylen Waddle. While Earle doesn’t quite have the same speed as Waddle, he comes to Alabama a bit more polished than the future first-rounder did three years ago.
Terrion Arnold was the final member of Alabama’s historic recruiting class this season. He was also one of the Tide’s top targets throughout the cycle.
The four-star safety received football and basketball offers from Alabama and will attempt to play both sports at the next level. On the gridiron, Arnold offers a high football IQ to match his elite athleticism. The 6-foot, 180-pound defensive back has the versatility to play both at safety or on the perimeter. However, he’s likely to start his career at the back end of the secondary.
Kadarius Calloway was initially one of the most underrated recruits in this year’s class due largely in part to playing his high school ball at the Class 2A level in Mississippi. However, as his talent became more and more apparent, the athletic defensive back found his way into the Rivals100.
Calloway starred on both sides of the ball in high school but figures to stick to defense at Alabama. The 6-foot, 200-pound athlete seems perfectly suited for the Star position in Saban’s defense.
Kendrick Blackshire’s 6-foot-2, 245-pound physique looks like something you’d see on Sundays rather than at the high school level. That sturdy build also comes with plenty of athleticism as the four-star defender went viral with a video of him clearing a 60-inch box jump during his junior year of high school.
Blackshire has the versatility to play both inside linebacker and off the edge. He might need to work a bit on his coverage ability if he is going to remain inside at the next level. However, he should develop into a productive defender regardless.
Kaine Williams is one of several versatile defenders Alabama added in this year’s class. The 6-foot-2, 195-pounder has a 77-inch wingspan and 32.5-inch arms and reportedly recorded a 32-inch vertical. While Alabama recruited him as a safety, there is a thought that he could eventually drop down to linebacker depending on how he continues to fill out.
Williams began his high school career as a quarterback which has helped him read opposing passers well and break quickly to the ball. That awareness should be beneficial regardless of where he ends up on the field for Alabama.
Alabama’s next DeVonta Smith has no relation to the departing Heisman Trophy winner. However, he’s looking to bring similar success to the other side of the ball.
The cousin of former Alabama running back Shaun Alexander, Smith offers nice athleticism in the secondary. The 6-foot, 185-pound defensive back also plays with plenty of toughness but will likely need to add a bit more weight at the next level. Smith will likely start his college career at safety but has the versatility to line up at several spots across the secondary.
Could Tim Keenan III be the next Birmingham, Ala. native to line up at nose guard for the Tide? Alabama has certainly had recent success with defensive tackles from the Magic City as current nose guard D.J. Dale, as well as former first-rounders Quinnen Williams and Daron Payne, all hailed from Birmingham.
Keenan, 6-foot-2, 335 pounds, will likely have to trim down at the next level. However, he’s extremely hard to move as a run stuffer and can provide a nice push inside in terms of pass rush. Keenan might be a project at the moment, but he brings plenty of potential to the Tide.
Jaeden Roberts is the only member of Alabama’s five-man offensive line class not already on campus. The 6-foot-5, 340-pounder has experience both inside and at tackle but figures to start his college career at guard where he can take advantage of his elite strength in the run game.
Roberts is still a bit raw and will have to polish his technique if he’s going to beat skilled defenders at the next level. He doesn’t figure to see the field early but could blossom into a nice piece for the Tide’s line down the road.
Anquin Barnes earned Class 6A First Team All-State honors from the Alabama Sports Writers Association as an offensive lineman after he recorded 14 pancake blocks. At Alabama, the 6-foot-5, 299-pounder will serve on the defensive side where he has the ability to line up at either the tackle or end positions.
A former basketball player earlier in his high school career, Barnes offers nice athleticism for his size. He should have plenty of time to develop his game behind several stars at Alabama.
East Mississippi Community College head coach Buddy Stephens never got to coach Khyree Jackson due to the pandemic. However, he saw enough from the 6-foot-3, 197-pound defender to call him one of the most talented defensive backs.
Despite Jackson’s size, he has the versatility to play at both safety and cornerback. Saban typically doesn’t bring in junior college players to sit on the bench, so expect to see him on the field next season.