Now that we are two weeks removed from NSD 2009, the dust has settled on the 2009 recruiting class, and just like last year, this class looks no less impressive now than it did at first glance.With NSD now with the ink fully dried, let's take a closer look at the class and our recruiting landscape.
Just taking the grand view of things, it's yet another elite class, no two ways about it. 27 signees... roughly 18-20 combined four and five star prospects. It's simply another elite class no way you look at it. And since the comparisons will be inevitable, the 2009 class is a bit smaller than the 2008 class, but frankly the 2009 class may very well end up being better. The size wasn't quite the same, but in other metrics the 2009 class seemingly exceeds its predecessor. The 2009 group had a higher average star rating with just about every major service, for example, but at the end of the day it's six in one and half of a doen in the other. You cannot go wrong with either one.
No major surprises, almost all credit should go to Nick Saban and the staff of assistants he has assembled. It would serve us all well to remember in what shambles our recruiting was when the Nicktator arrived in January of 2007. We had not been a player on the national level since the Means scandal broke several years earlier, and we were merely struggling to keep control of our own state. Even after Saban arrived, it was a rocky start. We did lose a few commitments, and then struck out on several players. Sidell Corley went to LSU, and both Ryan Williams and Mike McNeil spurned Alabama for Auburn, just to name a few.
Yet that all seems like ancient history now. Undoubtedly, Saban and company have quickly returned Alabama to the national recruiting elite. Suddenly Alabama is a hot name again, and a crimson offer is viewed as status-defining for any prospect. We are, for lack of a better way of putting it, "cool" again.
And don't kid yourself about how we have reattained this status. Truth be told, we are a creature of Nick Saban's creation, make no mistake about it. He is the one man that makes it all go. If you look at the results of his last five full recruiting classes, you can only reach one unmistakable conclusion... having Nick Saban on your side is just not fair to everyone else.
Furthermore, one of the most interesting things about this class is its geographical composition. To be sure, the state of Alabama turns out plenty of elite prep talent, and the Crimson Tide has taken full advantage of it the past two years, but it's not like we are just getting lucky and signing a bunch of talented in-state kids who grew up bleeding crimson. We are actively recruiting out-of-state, and frankly signing a plethora of unreal talents who would otherwise be going to other programs. Of the 27 signees, only 10 were from the state of Alabama, and one of those (D.J. Fluker) was actually a New Orleans native who grew up a diehard LSU fan. As for the other 17 guys, it was just a combination of extremely hard work and a program that is being returned to an elite level that ultimately led them to Tuscaloosa.
Moreover, on our successes outside the Alabama state lines, things just keep getting better and better. We had our best haul to yet out of Louisiana, picked up elite talent from both Mississippi and Florida, added good players from Georgia, and also finally sealed the deal with one of South Carolina's elite prospects, all the while firmly securing our own borders. At the risk of sounding arrogant, do not expect that to change in the near future. The success in Georgia will only get better with time, we should get at least three kids out of Tennessee in 2010, and we'll continue our annual raiding of Mississippi. Our out-of-state successes in 2009 were far from an anomoly.
All in all, it's difficult to really get a firm hold of just how good this class is, regardless of how it is analyzed. Anything you could ever want is here. You have massive linemen, stud receivers, game-changing tailbacks, elite pass rushers, run stuffing linebackers, assassin safeties, lockdown corners... you name it and in this class has it. But what about needs? We addressed all of those as well. We loaded up both lines of scrimmage with talent for years to come, signed more elite tailbacks, added much-needed depth to the receiver corps, brought athleticism to the linebacker corps, added more depth to the secondary, and found guys who could contribute immediately at need positions (see James Carpenter and Dre Kirkpatrick).
And perhaps the most exciting thing about this class is its depth. One of the most interesting ways to look at a class is to look at its not-so-highly-touted players, and see exactly what kind of athletes you have. Do that for the 2009 Alabama class, and see how impressed you are. Even our "worst" signees could have legitimately signed with just about any other SEC program out there. Could there possibly be a more on-point indicator of quality depth than that?
Bottom line, it's just another elite recruiting class for Nick Saban and Alabama, and if things continue at the current clip, it will only be a matter of time before our Crimson Tide is widely considered the most talented team in the country. We did all that we could do... we signed the elite prospects, we filled our needs, we protected our in-state base, and we raided the border states and beyond. In a recruiting sense, for the second year in a row, we had our cake and ate it too.
In the grand scheme of things, it's simply a great time to be an Alabama fan. With recruiting going like it is under Saban, the 2008 season is quickly becoming exactly what we all hoped it would be... not an end, but merely a preview of things to come.
It's no grand secret that for most of the past decade Alabama has been derided as an extinct program whose glory days had long since passed and never to return. All I can say is that I hope our critics and rivals got their fill of kicking us while we were down; we're in no position to be stomped on any longer. The times have changed.
For a decade we wandered through the proverbial desert, and all Alabama fans could do was talk about greatness. No longer, though... with the Saban-induced influx of elite talent now flooding our depth chart, Alabama is, once again, not just talking about greatness, but personifying it.