January 28, 2012

2012 Breakdown: Defensive Backs

The offensive line is one of the thinner positions in the University of Alabama's 2012 recruiting class, but the Crimson Tide has commitments from two solid offensive tackles, Brandon Greene and Brandon Hill. The UA coaching staff is still talking to Rivals100 offensive lineman Avery Young, but the Florida native is considered a long shot at this point.

This is the first in an eight-part series looking at Alabama's 2012 recruiting class as National Signing Day approaches.


1. Landon Collins

High School: Dutchtown High School (Geismar, La.)

Height/Weight: 6-foot, 200 pounds

Analysis: Collins was a huge pickup for the University of Alabama. Not only is he a five-star safety ranked in the top 20 nationally for 2012, but he's also from Geismar, La., 30 minutes from LSU's campus. The Tigers continue to recruit the Louisiana native, but he has said that he remains firm to Alabama and expects to sign with the Crimson Tide on signing day. Collins reminds people of former UA standout Mark Barron. He's only 6-feet tall, but it's his rare combination of speed and strength that makes him special. He's outstanding in run coverage, and although he may need some work against the pass, he has a knack for the football. He's always making plays. At the Under Armour All-America Game, Collins had an interception and always came up to make a big hit at the goal line to prevent a touchdown. There's a good chance he sees the field as a freshman, possibly in nickel or dime coverage. Eventually, he's expected to take over the safety position that Barron occupied the last couple years.

Quotable: "I've known for a long time, since two years ago, that I wanted to come to Alabama. I was at a game when they were playing Florida, and it felt tremendous. I just felt like 'wow.' It's a big stadium, beautiful, and it just felt like home."

Collins scouting video

2. Geno Smith

High School: St. Pius X School (Atlanta, Ga.)

Height/Weight: 5-foot-11, 180 pounds

Analysis: Smith committed to the University of Alabama somewhat early in the process, choosing the Crimson Tide over in-state rival Auburn. Since his commitment, he has become one of the top recruiters for UA through social media. Georgia tried to make a late push for the four-star cornerback, but Smith remains solid to Alabama. On the field, he projects as a cover corner, who could one day become a lockdown corner for the Tide. He has good size at 5-foot-11, 180 pounds, good hips and the speed to keep up with wide receivers. As a senior at St. Pius X, he played more of a safety position where he also excelled. With that in mind, the UA coaching staff has discussed the possibility of Smith playing the 'Star' position in dime packages as a freshman. With the loss of Dre Kirkpatrick, DeQuan Menzie and Phelon Jones, he could also see playing time at cornerback. Smith fills a position of need for the Tide going forward.

Quotable: "It's a great feeling just knowing that you're going into a winning program. The expectations are high and even higher now because they're coming off a 12-1 season with a BCS national championship. That's pretty cool."

Smith scouting video

3. Deion Belue

High School: Northeast Mississippi CC (Booneville, Miss.)

Height/Weight: 6-foot, 170 pounds

Analysis: Belue committed to the University of Alabama out of high school but had to take an alternate route because of grades and ended up at a junior college in Mississippi. Two years later, Belue stayed true to his commitment and is now enrolled at UA. As a cornerback, he has good speed, good range and a long wingspan, which helps him stay with most receivers that he faces. After spending two years at a junior college, Belue comes into Alabama more ready to play than he was coming out of high school. He also has the speed to make an immediate impact in the return game for the Crimson Tide. He had 691 return yards and two yards for Northeast Mississippi CC this past year.

Quotable: "I committed to Alabama out of high school, and I've just been ready to work with Coach (Nick) Saban to see how much better I can get."

4. Travell Dixon

High School: Eastern Arizona Junior College (Thatcher, Ariz.)

Height/Weight: 6-foot-2, 200 pounds

Analysis: With the University of Alabama losing three cornerbacks this year (Kirkpatrick, Menzie, Jones), Dixon committed to the Crimson Tide because he felt that was the best opportunity for him to play early. He also pointed to the success that DeQuan Menzie had at UA coming from the junior college ranks. At 6-foot-2, Dixon compares more to Dre Kirkpatrick than he does Menzie, but I wouldn't be surprised he makes an immediate impact for the Tide next year in the secondary. The Miami native finished with 30 tackles, four interceptions, five pass breakups and a forced fumble for Eastern Arizona College this year. It also helps that Dixon enrolled early at Alabama, giving him a chance to compete for a spot this spring and get a leg up on the rest of the 2012 recruiting class.

Quotable: "I'm looking to fit in just like the other defensive backs. I'm looking forward to developing a relationship with Dee Milliner and the whole secondary, getting the chemistry together, so we can be the next great secondary in the upcoming season."

Dixon scouting video

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