Alabama football loads up on line of scrimmage, keeps No. 1 class on early signing day

Brett Hudson
Tide Sports

Alabama made recruiting history before 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday.

For the first time in the Nick Saban era, UA signed three of the top 10 offensive linemen in the nation in one recruiting class: No. 1 JC Latham, No. 2 Tommy Brockermeyer and No. 10 Terrence Ferguson. The addition of Tommy Brockermeyer’s twin brother James, the top center in the country, and a cast of defensive linemen gave UA a strong grasp of its future in the trenches as the early signing period began.

More:Meet Alabama football's 2021 signees

When UA coach Nick Saban addressed the media after Wednesday’s practice, the class had 23 signees with at least one more expected to come, junior college cornerback Khyree Jackson signing around 8 p.m.

“We identified the needs that we had in this class early on, I think we got some really good players at each of those positions,” Saban said. “We’re really pleased to have this group of players become a part of our program and a part of our team.”

The additions along the offensive line were vital given UA’s current roster setup. While seniors have the option to come back for 2021, part of the NCAA’s bylaws passed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, UA has three senior offensive line starters — Landon Dickerson, Alex Leatherwood and Deonte Brown — with reasonable expectations of being drafted, making them less likely than others to return for an second senior season.

There is a path to early playing time if any can stand out in their first preseason at UA, given Chris Owens is listed as UA’s backup at center and left tackle, and was used as the backup right tackle when Evan Neal could not play against Arkansas. Alabama has other options — Tommy Brown, Pierce Quick and Darrian Dalcourt all arrived at UA as four-star signees, and Javion Cohen is a four-star freshman this season — but the freshmen will have every opportunity to earn spots on the two-deep depth chart.

On the defensive line, Alabama added a top 20 prospect in Damon Payne and a top 100 prospect in Monkell Goodwine, plus two developmental in-state prospects, Tim Keenan and Anquin Barnes, three-star defensive tackles from Birmingham and Montgomery, respectively.

Wide receiver was another position where UA came away as a big winner. It secured commitments from three of the top nine receivers in the class — five-star Jacorey Brooks, four-star Agiye Hall and four-star Christian Leary, all from Florida — months ago, and all of them signed Wednesday. Alabama added a fourth receiver among the top nine in flipping former LSU commit JoJo Earle, a top 50 prospect from Aledo, Texas.

“We’re probably a little bit thin in numbers at receiver, and knowing there’s the potential we lose a couple more guys this year, we thought it was really important for us to sign a minimum of three wide receivers and we were happy to get four,” Saban said. “These guys are of different types. You need different kinds of players to make a good receiving corps, and we have some fast guys and we have some big guys.”

The defensive line prospects were flanked by the addition a five-star Dallas Turner, the No. 8 prospect in the class, projected as an outside linebacker, and a second flip of a former LSU commit: Keanu Koht, four-star projected outside linebacker from Vero Beach, Florida.

Otherwise, UA spent the early part of Wednesday confirming commitments it has already secured, with little drama in terms of uncommitted prospects or flips in either direction. Cornerback Ga’Quincy McKinstry, the top corner in the nation and top prospect in the state of Alabama, was one of seven top 50 prospects to sign with UA on Wednesday.

Deontae Lawson, a four-star linebacker from Mobile, joined McKinstry, Keenan, Barnes and outside linebacker Ian Jackson as in-state prospect signees.

Assuming Khyree Jackson signs late Wednesday night, UA will enter the rest of the early signing period and the recruiting period before the February signing date with 24 signees on board. It does not give UA much room to add, nor positional needs to address, but Saban did not rule out an addition.

“You guys know the rules in terms of how many guys we can take,” Saban said. “We’ll manage it the best we can, but I think at this point, if we can get a really, really good player, we will surely be pleased to be able to do that.”

Reach Brett Hudson at 205-722-0196 or bhudson@tuscaloosanews.com or via Twitter, @Brett_Hudson