04 August 2008
We’ve now moved into the True Freshman part of the roster. This group of 25 guys, including the 2 who reported in January, has had as much hype as any recruiting class at the Capstone in the last 25 years. This group is expected to walk in and contribute immediately. That’s not one or two guys, but an across the board expectation of virtually every player in this class. The 26th member of the class is Junior College transfer Terrence Cody
who was profiled with the Juniors.
If you’ll recall the profile on Rolando McClain
then you’ll remember that Freshmen can be inconsistent. If you’ll recall the profile on Chavis Williams
or Luther Davis
then you’ll remember that sometimes Freshmen can sometimes give the impression of being very involved in a game without actually having the results to back up that impression.
To expect all of these guys to be heavy contributors is ridiculous. To expect them all to even play is beyond sanity. Having said that, there will be a larger contribution from this group than what most recruiting classes are able to accomplish. That is partly because of the lack of true SEC talent at several positions for Alabama, and partly because some of these young men are just special football players.
It is also worth noting that the old adage from Coach Bryant
that you lose one game for every Freshman that you play is probably a bit out-dated at this point. High School football programs are far more advanced today than they were 30 years ago. Yes, there are still programs that are similar to those of days past, but most High School programs today are actually preparing their athletes to play at the collegiate level.
High Schools now have advanced strength and conditioning programs, something that you didn’t see 15 years ago. They also have some of the same tools to help their athletes study film, or better yet, to help their athletes learn to study film. Coaching clinics have taught numerous High School coaches to run their practices in a similar way to how colleges run them. And coaching clinics have improved the overall level of coaching at the High School level.
There is still no realistic way to account for the adjustments in the size and speed of the college game, but I would say as a general rule that true Freshmen across the country are reporting to campus much closer to being ready to play than what we saw 2 or 3 decades ago.
There still should be a tempering of the expectations. Freshmen make mistakes when they play, typically at a greater rate than upperclassmen. When you’ve got 3 or 4 Freshmen on the field at the same time, then that increases the chance of multiple mistakes being made on the same play. That means that it is likely that this Bama team, especially the defense where more Freshmen are expected to contribute, will likely have some moments where it looks lost, and allows big plays.
I could have said all of this about the 12 guys that are returning as redshirt Freshmen, and it only becomes more amplified for the true Freshmen. The fact that these young men are just 3 months out of High School needs to be remembered. If a highly touted player doesn’t make an immediate impact in the Clemson game, he can still have a great career, even a great 2008.
But not all of these players will play this year. Whether it is because of good depth at their position, or because they are not quite ready, some of them will redshirt. And for those guys who do redshirt, 2008 will be a year to learn and to get bigger. That is needed for a lot of Freshmen, and those guys should not be forgotten, or considered a disappointment just because they need that extra year to make an adjustment. Georgia’s star Running Back Knowshon Moreno ran for 1300 yards last season after redshirting in 2006.
Some of these guys will play, though. Some of them might even start before the year is over. And for a very select few, the starting role might come very early. Despite the fact that fall camp has opened, there really isn’t a lot that can be said about their impact to the Tide in 2008 that goes beyond pure speculation. With that in mind, rather than address them individually, guys will be grouped by position, with their profiles done in those groups. We’ll go more into how they fit into the shape of things at their position when we do the individual position breakdowns.
We start today with Quarterback, a position that has 1 player in this class:
Star Jackson - #2 – QB – 6-3 – 193 lbs. – Lake Worth, FL – Lake Worth HS
One of the top signal callers in High School football last year, there are a lot of expectations on Star this year. Some folks have gone so far as to suggest that by mid-season he will have replaced John Parker Wilson
as the starter. That isn’t likely to happen.
Early practice has shown that Star is a very fluid passer with a quick release. He has the size and athleticism to be a dual threat QB at this level, but learning the mental part of a complicated SEC offense takes time. He has a big frame that is likely to see him gain another 15-20 lbs. over the course of the next year or so.
It is worth noting that Alabama signed 2 High School QBs, but Brad Smelley
has opened fall camp with the Tight Ends. So the weight of QB future at Alabama will rest squarely on Star’s shoulders, at least until A.J. McCarron
reports next summer.
Chance That He Plays in 2008
: Pretty good. With Wilson
gone next season the Tide will be looking to get his potential replacement some snaps in 2008. If Star ascends to the #2 guy he will absolutely see the field. If he’s #3 or #4 he will likely redshirt.