Analysis: Alabama football 2021 recruiting class off to solid start


CW / Hannah Saad

Ashlee Woods | @ashleemwoods, Staff Reporter

Alabama football is known for pulling in top recruits from all over the country. The 2021 recruiting class is no different. With seven hard commits, Alabama has attracted some very athletic and quick players. Here is an in-depth analysis of each player and what they can add to the Crimson Tide football program. 

Offensive tackle was one of the most influential positions on the team last year when it came to offensive success. The bookends of Alex Leatherwood and Jedrick Wills allowed Tua Tagovailoa to evolve as a drop-back passer. Alabama seeks to replicate that with the recruitment of JC Latham. Latham is a five-star offensive lineman from IMG Academy in Florida. At 6’6 and 305 pounds, Latham is extremely athletic for his size, and his strong build allows him to use his power to finish blocking. Due in part to his basketball background, Latham has shown great ability to make quick lateral movements while maintaining leverage over defensive lineman. He also displays good technique in the use of his hands when blocking. 

However, Latham is still very green in terms of experience. Coming to Alabama will likely be a challenge for Latham, as he is expected to line up across skilled defensive ends throughout the season. Despite his lack of experience, Latham is still a pickup that should excite Alabama fans. The quarterback is crucial to the success of not only the offense, but the team as a whole—fans learned this lesson when Tua missed the tail end of the 2019 season. Alabama needs players that are capable of protecting the quarterback. JC Latham can and should be one of these players. 

Alabama’s wide receiving corps is consistently ranked as one of the best in the country, and the success of our quarterbacks tends to correlate with the talent of our wide receivers. To keep the pattern going, the Tide has recruited a pair of four-star receivers: Agiye Hall from Bloomingdale High School and Jacorey Brooks from Booker T. Washington High School, both in Florida. Hall stands at 6’3 and weighs 185 pounds. He has a natural running stride, which can be attributed to his track background. He is not the fastest receiver, clocking in at a 4.50 40-yard dash time, but his tapes show that he takes off once he gets into his stride. He is also a very reliable catcher, a skill former Alabama receivers like Calvin Ridley prided themselves on. However, he tends to struggle with contested balls and needs to clean up his route running, which is a common problem for long-bodied receivers. All in all, Hall has the potential to be a great receiver at Alabama. 

Brooks is also 6’3, 185 pounds and a track athlete. He utilizes long purposeful strides, and his ability to play both on the outside and in the slot makes him a diverse player. One of his core talents is his yards gained after the catch. Brooks is a more natural catcher than Hall, particularly being stronger in catching jump balls, but he is a good bit slower with a 4.83 40-yard dash time. However, Brooks is also able to break away from defenders once he hits his stride. Adding these two receivers gives offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian some powerful weapons to use in his passing schemes.

Seeking to add depth and athleticism at linebacker, Alabama snagged another pair of four-star recruits: Deontae Lawson from Mobile Christian School and Ian Jackson from Prattville High School, both in Alabama. Starting with Lawson, the 6’3, 217-pound linebacker is a force on the field. His tape shows his ability to wrap up ball carriers and finish strong through tackles, an advantage of his long build. He also moves sideline to sideline extremely well. Lawson’s key intangible is identifying different run schemes and filling the hole quickly to make a stop. He comes from a lower-level region of high school football, so he will need to adjust to the higher speed and competition of the collegiate level.

Jackson stands at 6’1 and weighs 210 pounds. Like Lawson, Jackson moves sideline to sideline with ease. He has the speed on blitzes that recruiters like to see in outside linebackers as well as the ability to use his hands to get off blocks and get to the quarterback or ball carrier. He will likely struggle against bigger linemen as he enters the collegiate level; however, he should improve as he adds weight to his frame and focuses on his tackling technique. 

To add to a consistently thinning safety depth chart, Alabama added another four-star recruit: Kaine Williams from John Ehret High School in Louisiana. At 6’2 and 205 pounds, Williams’ tall frame allows him to excel at breaking up passes. His ability to track passes and make plays on the ball are clear on the stat sheet, with 10 interceptions over the past two seasons. While he possesses decent tackling skills, he can lack consistency and does not always seek a big hit. His speed is not accounted for since he does not have an official 40-yard dash time, but his tape shows that he is capable of flying around the field. Williams should thrive in Alabama’s defensive scheme, with the potential to also evolve into an off-the-ball linebacker. 

Alabama also added depth to an already strong defensive line with the recruitment of three-star defensive tackle Anquin Barnes from Robert E. Lee High School in Florida. Barnes stands 6’5 tall and weighs 299 pounds, and he has seen a rise in his recruitment stock due to his overwhelming athleticism. He is a multi-sport athlete with experience in basketball and track, both of which helped develop his speed and agility. His strong lower body also gives him the power to push through offensive linemen and get to the quarterback. Do not underestimate him for being a three-star recruit, as Barnes could become a top 100 college player by the end of his senior season. The talent and upside he possesses should excite Alabama fans. 

Although this class is relatively small at the moment, it has a lot of talent and speed, with all of these players poised to become potential starters sooner rather than later. Alabama consistently recognizes talented young athletes and develops them into NFL-caliber players. This class is no different.