Alabama football lands 4-star Dawson Merritt, son of Kansas City Chiefs assistant

On Wednesday, Alabama football added the 19th commitment to its 2025 class when four-star linebacker Dawson Merritt announced his pledge to the Tide on social media. The Stillwell, Kansas native officially visited Alabama a few weeks ago and committed to Kalen DeBoer and staff over Nebraska. Merritt is the second commit in the past few days, joining four-star offensive lineman Micah DeBose, the No. 89 player in the 247Sports Composite from Mobile, Ala. who committed on his official visit over the weekend.

Merritt is the No. 92 overall player and becomes the ninth commitment since June 1 for the Tide. Merritt recorded 83 tackles (17 for loss), seven sacks, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries last season. He is son of Kansas City Chiefs defensive backs coach Dave Merritt.

As it stands now, Alabama has the No. 2 ranked recruiting class nationally.

What does Merritt’s commitment mean for Alabama?

Alabama has six linebackers committed, including Merritt, but the 6-foot-3, 215-pound prospect is the only one of the group that’s projected strictly at outside linebacker or Wolf in Alabama’s new system. Outside linebackers coach Christian Robinson led the way on Merritt’s recruitment and added him to a room that needed replenishing with Keon Keeley essentially moving to the defensive line and will have one departing senior (Quandarrius Robinson) this winter.


What’s the latest on Alabama’s recruiting momentum?

What separates Merritt as an outside linebacker prospect is his Blue Valley High team deploys him as a true standup outside linebacker in its scheme, which isn’t always the case. Those who aren’t utilized in the same way, as was the case with Keeley and Yhonzae Pierre at their respective high schools, have a larger learning curve when entering college. Former Alabama coach Nick Saban provided context about the transition during fall camp last season.

“Outside linebacker is a position that not very many guys played when they were in high school,” Saban said. “They played defensive end and they rushed up the field all the time. To teach guys how to play that is a little bit of a work in progress. How do you drop, when do you drop? How do you stand up and play and use your hands, when can you rush up the field and when can you not? So all those things are sort of things that those guys need to learn.”

Merritt’s already comfortable with playing standing up and his high school tape shows a compilation of skills required to play Wolf at Alabama: creating havoc against the run, rushing the passer and dropping into coverage and playing confidently at the second level. He’ll need to add to his frame to play at the next level but has the size and athleticism to become a highly productive player.

Overall Merritt, the fifth top-100 recruit to commit to Alabama during this cycle, is another strong recruiting win by DeBoer’s new staff. There’s been a concerted effort to recruit the Southeast in combination with a national approach with commits from nine different states: Alabama, California, Georgia, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas and now Kansas with Merritt.

With the recruiting dead period in effect until July 24, Alabama is reaping the benefits of a successful June official visit period and is in a position to continue adding to its class over the next few weeks.

(Photo of Kalen DeBoer: Gary Cosby Jr. / USA Today)

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