Although Alabama’s signing class changed a bit for the better in the final 48 hours or so, it wasn’t quite enough to keep the Crimson Tide on top in the annual Recruiting Rankings by Scout.com. Bama had been number one for several weeks, but Texas also had its roster of recruits change in the final few days and the Longhorns edged out the Tide for the recruiting championship on Wednesday.
Alabama Coach Nick Saban was not discouraged by any rankings. “We’re very, very pleased with the players we were able to attract,” the Crimson Tide head coach said. He gave credit to the coaching staff, University President Dr. Robert Witt, Athletics Director Mal Moore, the faculty members “who sacrifice Saturday after Saturday” to provide academics information to prospects, to the Bama fans who create the atmosphere in Bryant-Denny Stadium when prospects are on campus, and to those who have gone before in establishing Crimson Tide tradition.
Alabama has added 26 new players. Eight of them—six high school graduates and two junior college transfers--were enrolled in January and are taking part in the off-season program and will participate in spring practice.
Saban said there were no surprises in the signing class. “We knew exactly” what was going to happen Wednesday, he said. “Things kind of shook out in the last 48 hours. They had to. We couldn’t send out a lot of scholarships on a ‘maybe’.”
Saban said the recruiting class “filled some needs. Our goal was to add some explosive players on offense, running backs and wide receivers. We feel good about what we did. On defense, we lost some good players to graduation and some going early to the NFL. Even though we have some good players back on defense, we felt we had to fill some needs. We added five defensive linemen, five linebackers, and four defensive backs. I think we added a good specialist in the kicker we got. We also added some offensive linemen even though we’ve got several back. That’s a developmental position and we want these kind of guys in our program.”
The Tide coach pointed out that “recruiting is not an exact science,” and said it would be the charge of the coaching staff and the players to develop them. “We recruited them because we thought they could be successful,” he said.
Saban also gave a hint as to part of Alabama’s recruiting pitch in pointing out that Alabama set a record with 38 players on the Southeastern Conference honor roll last year; that among the top ten BCS teams last season that Stanford was first in graduation rate and Alabama second; and that “a number [of Tide players] have been able to develop careers in the NFL.”
He said that a new SEC limit on 25 new signees and with Bama having only one spot available from 2011 for a “back fill,” that the Tide was limited to 26 signees. Elimination of the so-called grayshirt signee, he said, meant that Alabama was unable to sign some prospects who wanted to sign with the Crimson Tide. He added he didn’t “see how this helps the league.”
Saban said he thinks the 25 limit is going to be an NCAA rule. It made for “much more difficult management to hit the number and not go over,” he said.
Alabama’s class includes two junior college transfer cornerbacks, Deion Belue and Travell Dixon. Saban said, “We only recruit junior college players if we have needs. We’re excited about their ability and how they may contribute.” Alabama lost starting cornerbacks DeQuan Menzie and Dre Kirkpatrick following the 2011 national championship season.
The players come from eight states – Alabama (8), Georgia (8), Florida (4), Louisiana (2), Maryland (1), Tennessee (1), Texas (1) and Virginia (1).
As listed by position, the Crimson Tide add to their roster five defensive linemen, five linebackers, four defensive backs, three wide receivers, three offensive linemen, two running backs, one tight end, one athlete (Cyrus Jones), one placekicker and one quarterback.
Eight players – Ryan Anderson (LB), Deion Belue (DB), Chris Black (WR), Amari Cooper (WR), Travell Dixon (DB), Dillon Lee (LB), Alphonse Taylor (DL) and T.J. Yeldon (RB) – are already attending classes at The University. They all enrolled in January, began taking classes for the spring 2011 semester and will be able to participate in Alabama’s spring football practices. The other 18 players signed national letters of intent Wednesday. The Crimson Tide had nine players enroll in the spring of 2011, had 11 in 2010, and four in 2009.
Among the 26 players are:
Nine players participated in the Under Armour All-America Game – Dakota Ball; Chris Black; Landon Collins; Amari Cooper; Brandon Greene; Cyrus Jones; Korren Kirven; Reggie Ragland; Eddie Williams.
Three players participated in the U.S. Army All-America Bowl game – Dillon Lee; Geno Smith; T.J. Yeldon.
Two members of the Parade Magazine prep All-America team – Landon Collins; Cyrus Jones.
Three members of the USA Today’s 2011 All-USA High School Football Team – Landon Collins; Caleb Gulledge; T.J. Yeldon.