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Alabama Summer Enrollee Spotlight: Earl Little Jr.

Little was ranked No. 45 in the SI99 recruiting rankings and was the seventh cornerback on the list.

After welcoming in a dozen early enrollees in January, the rest of Alabama’s 2022 class is set to arrive on campus at the end of the month. The Crimson Tide will be joined by 11 freshmen summer arrivals as well as junior college transfer Miles Kitselman, who committed to Alabama earlier this month.

Over the next two weeks, BamaCentral will break down the arrivals one by one. Today we continue with SI99 cornerback Earl Little Jr.

The player

The Florida native is an all-around good defensive back, and his speed an athleticism make him more than capable to compete with the best in the future of college football. Little Jr. breaks on the ball with purpose, and he is active with his hands at the right time to force incompletions. He often returns punts for American Heritage, using his speed to get the the edge for chunks of yards.

Little spent his high school days at American Heritage High in Plantation, Florida, the alma mater of former Alabama cornerback and current Denver Bronco Patrick Surtain II. At 6-foot, 175 pounds, Little uses every ounce of his size to make tackles in the open field. He makes receivers uncomfortable with his aggressiveness and utilizes his instincts to play freely.

How he fits into Alabama

Little's game could fit really well into the role that Malachi Moore and Brian Branch currently fill, the role that Minkah Fitzpatrick made famous: the star position. Little could be effective at the star spot at Alabama because he is a gifted athlete and has the ability to undercut routes and turn them into defensive touchdowns. He is also aggressive enough to make sure tackles and be effective on occasional blitzes.

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Additionally, Little has more than enough experience in a traditional corner spot and will have the opportunity to grow and progress as he learns to guard elite wide receivers in the Alabama program. 

What to expect next year

Little has plenty of competition as all cornerback positions this year and will unlikely see much playing time outside of late-game action in garbage time. Ahead of him at star are the aforementioned Moore and Branch, and with his skillset lining him up with Kool-Aid McKinstry and Khyree Jackson, that's a lot of skill to overcome as a true freshman.

There's also LSU transfer Eli Ricks, redshirt-freshman Terrion Arnold and redshirt-sophomore Jahquez Robinson ahead of him at the other cornerback position, along with Jordan Battle, Daniel Wright and Kristian Story at strong safety. Say what you want about any of Alabama's positions this season, but the defensive backs might be the most talented unit on the team.

It is highly unlikely that Little will make any sort of impact his freshman season, and that's not on him. With all of the talent ahead of him, he has an entire season to develop on the team and gain experience from those ahead of him. That being said, he possesses the skillset to be able to see some playing time, just not as a starter and certainly not to start the season. 

Key quote

"Earl, I think, is an outstanding player. He’s got really good feet. He can run. He’s an instinctive player. He plays with toughness. He was on the top of our board all year long as one of the outstanding corners in the country. We’re excited to have him, we’re excited to get him. I think he’s going to have a great opportunity here with us based on the players that we have coming back. He’s a very mature young man. I think that he’s smart, and I think those kind of guys sort of can develop a little more quickly. His dad was a great player. His dad’s a coach. I think sometimes that adds to a guys’ overall knowledge and ability to understand concepts and develop confidence in how they need to play. We’re excited about Earle Little." — Nick Saban

Earl Little Jr.
Class of 2022 cornerback Earl Little Jr.
Earl Little Jr. Signing