4 Alabama Signees That Could Make an Impact on Defense in 2016
It's been head coach Nick Saban's forte since he arrived in Tuscaloosa: play solid, fundamental, dominant defense. In order to play dominant defense, it helps to have talent on the field, and the 2016 signing class for Alabama has quite a few defensive players that could make a splash next season.
Now sophomore Minkah Fitzpatrick earned plenty of playing time in 2015 by his exceptional skill and ability to understand the complexity of Nick Saban and Kirby Smart's defensive scheme. Of course, with so many underclassmen deciding to come back on defense next season, simply getting on the field will be a feat in and of itself. But is there a player in this signing class that could see immediate playing time next season, and if so, which ones have the capabilities to make an impact?
The son of Alabama legend Wayne Davis, Ben Davis was ranked by 247Sports.com as the #1 inside linebacker recruit in the nation, coming out of Gordo High School. He's got the pedigree and he's got the size (6'3" 240 lbs). If he's able to understand the playbook, look for Davis to be an important cog next season on special teams and defense.
Alabama is pretty set at one cornerback position for next season in Marlon Humphrey, but they'll be looking to replace the hole made by the departure of senior Cyrus Jones. Tony Brown will be a junior next season, and assuming he's not in Saban's doghouse (where he ended the season), he'll most likely be the main man on the other side. But with more and more teams playing more and more receivers and throwing the ball around, it's possible that Knott could be thrown into the mix early to get as much experience as possible.
Yes, Alabama's defensive line is loaded with talent and playing time from a youngster is a rarity, but with Jones's size (6'4 375 lbs), it's borderline insane not to use him on obvious rushing situations. Think back to Tide legend Terrence Cody. He was one of the most important individual pieces on that 2009 national championship team. Jones can be the same kind of player.
There was some speculation that Alabama's 2016 recruiting class may not live up to the previous years' reputation, but with the signing of linebackers Ben Davis and Lyndell "Mack" Wilson, the Tide's class instantaneously became the #1 class in the nation. Wilson, out of Carner High School in Montgomery, is a great edge rusher at linebacker, but he's also capable of defending the passing game in space. Again, the Tide's front seven is loaded, but it's difficult to keep talent like this off the field.