Five for '14: Defensive backs

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The University of Alabama and coach Nick Saban have become very selective when recruiting defensive backs, in particular cornerbacks. And why shouldn’t he be picky? After all, he’s the one who works with them, hands on, every day in practice.

Because of that, the Crimson Tide have missed on some big names in the past, but they have also been able to lure some elite prospects to Tuscaloosa. Since 2009, UA has signed six defensive backs ranked in the ESPN 150, highlighted by cornerbacks Dre Kirkpatrick (2009) and DeMarcus Milliner (2010).

Last year, Alabama signed Landon Collins, the nation’s top safety prospect, and Geno Smith, the No. 2 cornerback nationally.

This year, the Tide already have a commitment from ESPN 150 cornerback Maurice Smith (Sugar Land, Texas/Dulles), but they’re still on the search for another cornerback prospect as well as a safety.

But, if they miss out, there’s no need to worry. The 2014 class features a number of talented defensive backs, including a pair of cornerbacks who are high on Alabama.


CB Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen): It’s never easy to steal a top recruit out of the Lone Star State, but Alabama is hoping to do just that with Brown. The 6-foot cornerback received an offer from the Tide at their camp in June. He’s seen Bama play twice this year, once against Michigan in Cowboys Stadium and again at LSU, but he’s yet to see a game in Bryant-Denny Stadium. UA is hoping to get him back on campus soon so they can make another pitch.

CB Marlon Humphrey (Hoover, Ala./Hoover): Unlike Brown, Humphrey has made himself a regular on Alabama’s campus. After all, he’s the son of former UA All-American running back Bobby Humphrey. However, the younger Humphrey isn’t ready to pull the trigger for the Tide just yet. He visited Florida State earlier this season, and he’s also shown interest in Auburn, LSU and Mississippi State. Still, Alabama looks to be in the driver’s seat for the in-state prospect.

S Todd Kelly Jr. (Knoxville, Tenn./Webb School): Blood runs deep, and for Kelly Jr., it could ultimately affect his college decision. His father played football for Tennessee, but his sister is a cheerleader at Alabama. He has offers from both schools, and although he lives in Knoxville, he’s been to both campuses multiple times since the summer. It might come down to who is coaching the Volunteers this time next year.

CB Steven Parker (Jenks, Okla./Jenks): As the only prospect not on the ESPN Watch List, Parker is considered a little more under the radar, but he’s already made quite an impression on the Alabama coaching staff. The Tide offered the Oklahoma native in September. They like his size at 6-foot-2, 175 pounds for the cornerback position, and they’re hoping to host him for a visit. He also has offers from Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.

S Jalen Tabor (Washington, D.C./Friendship): Tabor was one of the first 2014 recruits to receive a scholarship offer from Alabama, and the Tide have been among his top schools ever since. Last month, he came out with a top five that included Alabama, Florida, Maryland, Ohio State and Tennessee. His decision could go all the way to signing day, but expect the Tide to be a major player throughout.

Other targets: S Jamal Adams, S Nick Glass (UGA commitment), S Laurence Jones, CB D.J. Smith, CB Nick Watkins