TUSCALOOSA _ Today it all begins for some new University of Alabama football players.
With the first day of undergraduate classes for the spring semester, the Crimson Tide is expected to welcome eight new players, many of whom will have the best chance in the signing Class of 2011 to get on the field next season, or at least try to springboard their collegiate careers.
Among them are three junior-college transfers, including defensive linemen Jesse Williams and Quinton Dial, junior-college transfers who could earn immediate playing time when the 2011 season begins.
"It's an area we could use some big, strong guys," Coach Nick Saban said last month.
Offensive tackle Aaron Douglas is also set take his first classes on the Capstone, along with two players who were in last year's class, wide receiver Ronald Carswell and defensive end Wilson Love, but held off enrolling as grayshirts.
Getting an early jump during the spring semester, when they can all participate in all offseason workouts and A-Day, has helped numerous players of late.
Last year, cornerback DeMarcus Milliner, the top-rated player in the class (No. 23 according to Rivals.com), enrolled early and ended up winning a starting job in the fall. In similar nature, cornerback Kareem Jackson did likewise in 2007 and last year left the Capstone early to become a first-round draft pick of the Houston Texans.
"It was all about getting adjusted to it," sophomore guard Chance Warmack said about enrolling early two years ago. "The faster I could get adjust the faster I could move and get to where everyone else is."
Also enrolling early last year were kicker Cade Foster, running back Jalston Fowler (who didn't play his senior season due to AHSAA age limitations), cornerback John Fulton, defensive lineman Brandon Lewis, quarterback Phillip Sims and offensive linemen Chad Lindsay and Austin Shepherd.
Here are this year's new spring faces on campus:
Position Wide receiver
Previous school Macon (Ga.) Westside
Rivals rankings: Three-star prospect. Last year, No. 71 wide receiver, No. 48 in Georgia.
Committed: April 8, 2009 (Class of 2010)
Background: Many considered Carswell the sleeper of the 2010 class after he had impressive camps and combines. He had 34 catches for 627 yards and three touchdowns in 2008, and followed that with 41 catches for 714 yards and seven touchdowns his final year while leading his high school team to an 11-2 finish.
Outlook: Carswell has a reputation for being a good route-runner but also a vertical threat. With Julio Jones heading to the NFL a year early there will be a lot of competition at wide receiver. He could also vie for playing time on special teams.
Quote: "We talked about once I enter school that there will be a big adjustment for me," Carswell told BamaOnline last year. "I will have a lot of things to balance, and part of the staff's job is making sure I am on a regular schedule, that I handle my school work first and football second. They have a lot of support for all of the football players and it really makes it tough to not succeed. All you have to do is put in the work."
Previous school: Springfield (Ohio)
Rivals rankingsFour-star prospect. No. 6 outside linebacker. No. 5 in Ohio.
Committed: July 30, 2010
Background: DePriest is coming off a strong showing at the Under Armour All-American Game, where he showed good instincts and held his own in pass coverage of the nation's best tight ends. Getting the top linebacker out of Ohio was a pretty big recruiting victory for Alabama.
Outlook: Coming in early shows how serious DePriest is about getting on the field as soon as possible and could see early playing time on special teams.
Quote: "Trey's intelligence is way up there," Springfield head coach Rick Robertson told BamaOnline. "He has a great understanding of the concepts of our defense and what we're trying to do. When you look at what Coach Saban does at Alabama, he's going to run a one-gap responsibility for the most part up front and his linebackers are always going to be multi-gap players. Trey has the same kind of responsibilities in our defense. Alabama also walks their linebackers up a lot and gives a lot of different looks in terms of blitzes and coverages, which is also something Trey will at least be familiar with from his time here. We actually picked up our coverages from one of Coach Saban's clinics when he was at LSU."
Position Defensive end
Previous school: East Mississippi C.C.
Rivals rankings: No. 15 junior-college prospect.
Committed: Feb. 12, 2010
Background: Dial originally signed with the Crimson Tide out of Clay-Chalkville High School in 2008 and has continued to make strides at East Mississippi Community College, where last year he was named an NJCAA All-American. This past season he was third in team tackles with 76 to go with 3½ sacks and four tackles for a loss. In high school he was the ASWA's 6A Defensive Lineman of the Year.
Outlook: Although Marcell Dareus and Luther Davis are the only departures Alabama can always use defensive linemen and Dial should challenge for a rotation spot.
Quote: "I think I've improved a lot since high school when it comes to how I approach things in the classroom and on the field," Dial told BamaOnline last fall. "I've learned a lot about working hard and I've seen how much it can pay off when you really put in the effort. Things have gotten better for me each day since I've gotten here and that has really been encouraging."
Position Offensive tackle
Previous school: Arizona Western C.C.
Rivals rankings No. 10 junior-college prospect
Committed Dec. 16. 2010
Background: After being a standout tight end in Maryville, Tenn., Douglas initially signed with Tennessee and was a Freshman All-American at tackle, but eventually left the Volunteers due to personal reasons. He was an NJCAA All-American at Arizona Western. His fresh start/second chance got off to a rocky start when shortly after signing with Alabama he was arrested and charged with DUI.
Outlook: Douglas figures to challenge to be the starting left tackle.
Quote: "This was the toughest decision of my life but at the same time it was the easiest," Douglas told BamaOnline last month. "It was tough because I had some truly great schools to choose from with Alabama, USC, Arkansas and Oregon. I met some great people and all were great options, but at the end of the day I couldn't turn down the chance to play for maybe the greatest coach ever. Alabama has something truly special going on right now in Tuscaloosa and I wanted to be part of it. Just play my role in helping them win another national championship."
Previous school: Tampa Plant (Fla.)
Rivals rankings: Four-star prospect. No. 6 pro-style quarterback, No. 48 in Florida.
Committed: August 11, 2010
Background: Heading into his senior season, Ely was 19-0 as a starter and won two state championships. Plant lost in the title game this year, but he passed for 2,731 yards and 26 touchdowns compared to 1,833 yards and 20 touchdowns as a junior. Ely recently played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
Outlook: Ely's known for his accuracy, quick release and winning. Barring a sudden quarterback shortage he'll redshirt the upcoming season.
Quote: "I really think the offense we ran this year is a perfect preparation for a guy going to Alabama," Plant coach Robert Weiner recently told BamaOnline. "In the past, we've been more of a spread attack, throwing it around 40 times a game, and that helped guys like (Robert) Marve and (Aaron) Murray to set all kinds of state records. Phillip was part of that early on but we evolved into a more multifaceted offense because of some of the other talent we had on offense. This year, we ran some spread, some pro sets, and even some Power-I, sometimes changing from down to down in the same drive. I think having the ability to change pace like that will be a big tool for Phillip when he gets to Alabama since that's really the way they seem to approach offense as well."
Position: Defensive end
Previous school: Mountain Brook
Rivals rankings: Three-star prospect in 2010. No. 42 strongside defensive end
Committed: April 18. 2009 (Class of 2010)
Background: The brother of tackle Tyler Love, he played nose guard and a tight end in high school. Before fracturing an ankle in the final game of his senior season, Love had 94 tackles, 12 sacks, four forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.
Outlook: Love had a great motor in high school and frequently got into fights with his brother during practice. It appears he'll start out at defensive end, but offensive guard could be an option.
Quote: "I grew up as an Alabama fan, both my parents went there, so did all my aunts and uncles too so it wasn't much of decision," Love told BamaOnline last year. "It's always been a dream of mine."
Previous school: Northridge
Rivals rankings: Three-star prospect. No. 17 in Alabama.
Committed: June 14, 2010
Background: The son of linebackers coach Sal Sunseri, he has the unusual distinction of being named defensive player of the year in two states, including the Class 6A Defensive Player of the Year and Lineman of the Year in Alabama this past fall. He previously attended Marvin Ridge (Waxhaw, N.C.), where as a junior recorded 107 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, two sacks and five interceptions. Sunseri recently turned heads at the Under Armour All-American Game.
Outlook: Although Sunseri doesn't have the ideal size for linebacker, he certainly has the attitude and plays with a chip on his shoulder. He has great instincts and football smarts, which make him an asset no matter where he lines up, linebacker, strong safety or special teams.
Quote: "I want to be a playmaker for the team but I also want to help other guys around me make plays too," Sunseri told BamaOnline before the start of his senior season. "I'm going to be at linebacker, safety and running back this year depending on the situation and I'm really trying to put some pressure on myself to step up to that challenge. I want to finish first in every sprint. I want to do everything I can to make my coaches and my teammates have confidence in me to make a play when the team needs one."
Position: Defensive tackle
Previous school: Arizona Western C.C.
Rivals rankings: No. 2 junior-college prospect
Committed: Sept. 5, 2010
Background: Williams originally grew up playing rugby and basketball in Australia before taking up football at the age of 14. As a freshman, he made 46 tackles in 11 games with seven tackles for loss and four sacks. This past season he notched 30 tackles in seven games with six tackles for loss, two sacks and an interception.
Outlook: It isn't fair, but Williams will be compared to Alabama's last junior-college transfer at nose tackle, Terrence Cody, who went on to be an All-American. Look for Williams, who spent a year after high school as a landscaper, to challenge for playing time immediately.
Quote: "He's a better athlete than Terrence Cody," Arizona Western coach Tom Minnick told Rivals.com. "He can play all three downs. Terrence Cody was a one-down guy, maybe a two-down guy. He couldn't rush the passer. Jesse can."