Alabama has assembled the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class by acquiring top prospects from across the country. Days after landing a commitment from coveted Georgia linebacker Adonis Thomas, Nick Saban has turned his attention to California defensive back Iman Marshall.
The 5-star Long Beach Poly High School senior shared the development Thursday evening on his Twitter account:
His offer comes as a bit of a surprise. Not because it isn’t warranted—Marshall is the top-rated cornerback in 247Sports’ composite rankings—but because of its timing.
The 6’1″, 190-pound playmaker has collected dozens of scholarship offers during his high school career and is entering the final stretch of a frenzied recruitment. Strangely enough, Alabama waited to pull the trigger on a scholarship until eight weeks before national signing day.
Marshall mentioned the Crimson Tide as a team of interest early in the process but, without an offer, he’s focused his attentions elsewhere. Stanford, USC and UCLA are still in the picture as in-state options, but he’s set to explore opportunities elsewhere now that his final high school season is finished.
Notre Dame welcomes him to campus this weekend, while Oklahoma, LSU and Florida State are also expected to receive official visits. Marshall previously pegged Michigan as one of his five official visits, but the struggling program no longer appears to be part of the equation.
Could Alabama swoop in and secure an on-campus sales pitch before his decision is made?
The Crimson Tide should be aided by Marshall’s placement on Team White in the 2015 Under Armour All-America Game. The event, set for January 2 in St. Petersburg, Florida, features nine Alabama commits on the same roster.
Blake Barnett, a 5-star California quarterback, is among them and has a solid relationship with Marshall.
“Receivers really have to fight to get open against him because he always seems to be on the attack,” Barnett told me this summer. “He’s pretty fearless. That definitely doesn’t make it easy on us quarterbacks.”
Top-rated wide receiver and Crimson Tide commit Calvin Ridley will also compete for Team White. He matched up against Marshall in July at The Opening, an invite-only prospect showcase at Nike’s world headquarters in Oregon.
“Marshall is the No. 1 cornerback in this class,” Ridley told me afterward. “I caught a big pass against him, but he was always right on me, fighting for the ball. He doesn’t fall for any moves either, so he stays with you the whole time.”
The Team White defensive backfield also includes Alabama pledges Shawn Burgess-Becker and Deionte Thompson.
Which team is most likely to land 5-star DB Iman Marshall?
Lauded for his physicality and smooth coverage skills, Marshall believes his off-field efforts ultimately separate him from the pack.
“Preparation is so important because it helps you react as quickly as possible, and that’s what playing defensive back is all about,” he told me at the start of this season. “When you study something over and over again, nothing is a surprise anymore. You understand what’s coming—the formations, the schemes, everything.”
Marshall is arguably the premier uncommitted player remaining in this cycle, putting plenty of pressure on programs to seal the deal as signing day approaches. Alabama may be late to the party, but it sure does provide some unexpected intrigue at a pivotal stage of the pursuit.
Quotes obtained firsthand by Bleacher Report national college football recruiting analyst Tyler Donohue.
Ratings courtesy of 247Sports.