Not everyone takes a head start.
In January, Alabama welcomed eight early enrollees to campus for the spring semester.
But those eight freshmen represent less than one-third of the Crimson Tide’s 2014 signing class. Nineteen signees chose to attend prom and graduate from high school in the traditional fashion. And even though they are indeed a step behind their peers today, the distance isn’t insurmountable.
Sure, it’s easier to play as a true freshman when you enroll early. A semester of school and 15 spring practices make a world of difference. But as players such as Jonathan Allen showed last season, sometimes the summer offseason program and fall camp are enough to show you can play early.
With that said, here’s a look at three summer enrollees, plus a transfer, who could give Alabama’s offense a boost as freshmen:
ATH Bo Scarbrough: He’s the wild card. Scarbrough, like Derrick Henry before him, has the ability to play almost anywhere on the field. He could fit in at linebacker or defensive end if he wanted to. In fact, he played some end and rushed the passer in high school. At 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds, he might not look like a running back, but that’s where he’ll get his shot. Don’t let his height fool you, he has good pad level and great burst. He can even catch the ball some, too. While it’s true that Alabama is absolutely loaded at running back, don’t count Scarbrough out. With his unique skill set, offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin will be tempted to use him at any number of positions.
K/P J.K. Scott: Man, oh man, is there a need for a kicker on Alabama's special teams units, both at placekicker and punter. If you saw A-Day, you know. Not many SEC programs win with a backup quarterback punting, and it doesn’t look like Adam Griffith is the rock-solid field goal kicker coaches so covet. Enter Scott, who could contribute in either fashion. The Colorado native is ranked as the No. 5 kicker in the country, and if you look closer at his scouting report you’ll read that “The ball explodes off his foot and he is a prototypical punter/kicker.”
OL Dominick Jackson: At the very least, Jackson is an insurance policy on Cameron Robinson. Robinson worked his way into the starting rotation at left tackle this spring, but he’s still a rookie fresh out of high school, even if he comes with five stars and looks nothing like a newbie. Jackson, on the other hand, has some seasoning from junior college. At 6-6 and 310 pounds, he fits the mold of an offense tackle but could play guard as well. So maybe he’s an insurance policy on the line as a whole. The bottom line, however, is that if Nick Saban and the coaching staff didn’t think he could play right away they wouldn’t have signed him in the first place. With so few spots in each class, you can’t afford to waste one on a two-year player who needs development.
QB Jacob Coker: You didn’t think we forgot, did you? Just like Jackson, Coker wouldn’t be in Tuscaloosa if Saban and the staff didn’t think he could play. And after what we saw from the other quarterbacks at A-Day, what makes you think Coker isn’t the presumptive favorite to start under center? He has prototypical size at 6-5 and 230 pounds, he has above-average quickness, the maturity to handle the competition and comes from a system at Florida State that’s very similar to what Alabama likes to run.