Recruiting: Junior college pair could give Tide immediate lift up front defensively
by Marq Burnett
mburnett@annistonstar.com
Jan 27, 2014 | 3072 views |  0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
With the departures of defensive linemen Ed Stinson and Jeoffrey Pagan and outside linebacker Adrian Hubbard, Alabama will be in need of immediate contributions along the defensive line and pass rush next football season.

For the 2013 season alone, Stinson, Pagan and Hubbard combined for 109 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks and 12 quarterback hurries.

While the Crimson Tide’s 2014 recruiting class -- ranked No. 1 nationally by Rivals.com -- includes four high school defensive linemen, two junior college players may have an advantage in the race for significant playing time.

Junior college defensive linemen Jarran Reed and D.J. Pettway signed their national letters of intent with the Tide in December and enrolled earlier this month along with six other members of the Tide’s 2014 class.

The two were teammates at East Mississippi Community College and won a junior college national championship last fall. Both have two years of eligibility remaining.

EMCC coach Buddy Stephens said both players are ready to contribute.

Reed, who is from North Carolina, finished his season at EMCC with 66 tackles and 3.5 sacks. At 6-foot-4 and 320 pounds, Reed is the nation’s No. 2-ranked junior college defensive tackle according to the 247Sports Composite rankings.

“I believe he’s going to cut a little weight and put some back on in muscle,” Stephens said by telephone. “Jarran is the type of person that can play so well with his hands. He’s a big guy, a physical guy. Depending on how Alabama uses him, I really think he’s going to be able to contribute very quickly.”

Stephens said he expects Reed to play inside, particularly at nose guard. He also said Reed is “quick enough that he can play on the edge.”

Along with production, the Tide will be looking for new leaders to emerge. That’s something Stephens said Reed can provide.

“He’s an older kid that’s become very, very grounded and motivated, and I know he’s working very hard,” Stephens said. “The first thing he’s going to do is just work hard and be accepted. He’s going to lead by his actions and his efforts. I think once he’s established himself, then he can become a vocal leader. … I’m sure he’s going to find his place.”

Reed signed with Florida as part of the Gators' recruiting class last year but didn't qualify academically and returned to EMCC for his sophomore season.

Pettway signed with Alabama in 2011 and spent two seasons with the Tide before being dismissed in the spring of 2013 after an arrest for his involvement in the robberies and assault of two University of Alabama students.

At 6-3 and 250 pounds, Pettway is the No. 3 junior college strongside defensive end prospect, according to 247Sports Composite rankings. He is a versatile player who can play defensive end and linebacker with a specialty in rushing the passer.

Pettway had 47 tackles, including 11.5 sacks last season and was named a JUCO All-American. Stephens said Pettway is thankful for the second chance and that he won’t take it for granted. He said he feels Alabama is getting a complete pass rusher.

“He came to us with great technique,” Stephens said. “He’s fast, physical and quick with his hands. He’s a young man that understand what he needs to do and what he needs to work on.”

During his first stint with the Tide, Pettway saw time in 12 games as a redshirt freshman. He had seven tackles, including three tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks.

Stephens noted Pettway’s knowledge of the Tide’s playbook is still pretty fresh.

“He still remembers the calls and what he’s suppose to do on the calls,” Stephens said. “Both of them are very intelligent young men. I think D.J. is going to adapt very quickly. Both of them are going to bring an amount of physicality to the defensive front.”

Stephens said he has spoken to both Reed and Pettway since they enrolled at Alabama.

“Jarran and D.J. are just so excited and happy,” Stephens said. “That means the most to me. They’re being taken care of very well. They’re working hard, going to classes and adjusting very well. They love it there at the University of Alabama.”
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