Bama’s early arrivers hoping to get head start

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) - Those five-star Alabama recruits coming in this summer will have some catching up to do with their early-arriving peers.

The Crimson Tide already has eight signees enrolled, and most of them are at positions where there happen to be vacancies.

Massive lineman Cam Robinson has spring practice to start competing to replace left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio. Perhaps cornerback Tony Brown can use the extra time to take over for Deion Belue, or safety Laurence “Hootie” Jones will challenge for Ha Ha Clinton-Dix’s job.

Maybe quarterback David Cornwell will edge up the depth chart before Florida State transfer Jake Coker gets on campus.

Potential candidates for job openings at linebacker and on the defensive line are also already on hand for offseason workouts and the spring.

All that’s getting way ahead of anything coach Nick Saban is talking about, but the opportunities are there for the early enrollees.

“I don’t think there’s any question about the fact that when you’re a mid-year guy your transition to college is a little smoother transition because you have more time to make the transition,” Saban said.

The Tide’s recruiting class was rated the nation’s best by all the major recruiting services on Wednesday. Brown and Robinson are two of the group’s most highly rated players.

Saban made six of the eight available on Wednesday before putting into effect his rule against freshmen talking to the media.

The 6-foot-6, 335-pound Robinson, a top-5 national recruit, isn’t taking it for granted that he’ll replace the All-American Kouandjio.

“Of course I wouldn’t mind starting,” Robinson said, “but that’s something you have to ask coach about.”

He was the centerpiece of an impressive group of offensive linemen that included the nation’s two top-rated centers.

“Oh man, we’ve got a great, great, great, great offensive line class coming in,” Robinson said.

For defensive end D.J. Pettway, Wednesday was the second time he has celebrated signing with Alabama. The junior college transfer was one of four players dismissed from Alabama in February 2013 after being charged in two robberies in Tuscaloosa. The university said Pettway no longer faces charges and cleared him to return.

Former Alabama safety Eddie Williams had told police that Pettway and another teammate, Tyler Hayes, watched him commit one of the robberies from a nearby vehicle, according to court documents.

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