Commentary

In-state 2014 class could be special

State of Alabama has at least four prospects who could rank in top 50

Updated: June 29, 2012, 9:41 AM ET
By Greg Ostendorf | TideNation

Editor's note: This is Part 5 in a five-part series looking at some of the top prospects in the 2014 class.

The state of Alabama is known for football.

Between the University of Alabama and Auburn University, the state has won the last three national championships and produced two of the last three Heisman Trophy winners.

It's a state that is also known for its high school football. On any given Friday night in the fall, the majority of the people across the state are perched in the bleachers, waiting for their team take the field.

Hoover High School coach Josh Niblett knows a thing or two about football in Alabama. He grew up in the state, and his father coached high school football for 36 years.

"Football is something that you always looked forward to playing," Niblett said. "As far as growing up in the state of Alabama, I would say football is a sport that everybody within every community looks forward to."

[+] EnlargeBo Scarbrough
Alex Scarborough/ESPN.comIn-state tailback Bo Scarbrough could be among the top offensive prospects of the class of 2014.
Because of that passion, Alabama is also a state that has produced a lot of talent over the years. In five of the last six years, the Yellowhammer State has had at least one prospect picked in the top 10 of the NFL draft.

In 2012, eight prospects from the state were ranked in the ESPN 150, including the nation's top quarterback, Jameis Winston.

The talent level this year might be down compared to what it has been, but the 2014 class has a chance to be one of the best groups the state has ever seen with at least four players worthy of a top-50 national ranking.

All four prospects are good enough at their respective positions to claim the top spot in the state, but none might be more physically gifted than running back Bo Scarbrough (Tuscaloosa, Ala/Northridge).

Scarbrough is 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, and he's all muscle. The rising junior had his first two high school seasons cut short because of injury, but he's healthy now and primed for a big year. He has already been offered by nearly half the schools in the SEC.

Defensive back Marlon Humphrey, the son of former Crimson Tide legend Bobby Humphrey, could also make a case for the top spot. He's a true cover cornerback who has already shown he can lock down an entire side of the field.

Humphrey already has eight scholarship offers, and he could end up being the top cornerback in the Southeast before it's all said and done.

The Mobile area is always chock full of talent, and it's no different in 2014. St. Paul's Episcopal linebacker Tre Williams headlines the group. He, too, has offers from several SEC schools, and the 230-pound prospect looks like he could play college football tomorrow.

His teammate Josh Casher, an interior offensive lineman, hasn't garnered quite the attention that Williams has, but his coach believes he's good enough to play at the high Division I level. He's receiving interest from the likes of Alabama, Auburn and LSU.

Not to be overlooked by Scarbrough, Oxford High School's Racean "Rock"' Thomas might be the best pure running back in the class. He might not be as big, but he makes up for it with his vision and quickness.

Former Oxford offensive coordinator Mark O'Bryant, who is now the head coach at Ashville High School, has had the opportunity to coach both Thomas and now E.J. Moss, arguably the state's top quarterback in 2014.

"This state is phenomenal," O'Bryant said. "It's truly phenomenal. We're so very blessed to have so much talent coming from this state. I've had the pleasure of coaching both Rock and E.J., and I don't think there's any two finer people in this state than those two kids."

It's a long way until February 2014, but by the time national signing day comes around, this group of kids in Alabama has a chance to be special.

Greg Ostendorf | email

Auburn/SEC reporter