The 2014 season was not a banner year for Kirby Smart and the Alabama defense. While they notched impressive results against teams like Texas A&M and Mississippi State, they underperformed significantly against Auburn and Ohio State. The secondary was particularly disappointing and oddly vulnerable on 3rd and long.

With Kevin Steele and Lance Thompson gone and Tosh Lupoi and Mel Tucker in, the defensive staff will have plenty of new weapons to work with. Here are five recruits who could be impact players on defense.

  • 1

    Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB

    Alabama's corners had trouble playing the ball in the air last season.  A talented ballhawk like Minkah Fitzpatrick could have an immediate impact, even if he isn't the greatest in pure coverage on the team.

  • 2

    Daron Payne, DL

    The 3-4 defense works best when you have a dominant defensive tackle that can demand double teams.  Daron Payne has the ability to be just that.  He'll have to fight through crazy depth on the defensive line early, but look for him to be a force.

  • 3

    Kendall Sheffield, DB

    Like Fitzpatrick, Kendall Sheffield can provide immediate depth in the secondary.  After last season's struggles, look for Sheffield to get some early looks in fall camp.

  • 4

    Mekhi Brown, DL

    You can never have enough pass rushers, and Mekhi Brown brings that to the table.  At 6-5, 217 he has the size to play in the SEC and could play into the rotation at defensive end in 2015.

  • 5

    Joshua McMillon, LB

    While Reggie Ragland's return is big for Alabama, the depth at linebacker has been lacking recently. Joshua McMillon has a chance to break into the rotation early this fall.