A pair of interesting articles popped up recently concerning the problem of retaining highly touted recruits. This is sort of the flip side of the Great Oversigning Debate of '08 still being bantered about in some corners of this website. Oddly, it seems almost completely overlooked.
The great and powerful Dr. Saturday penned a post today taking note of a slight wrinkle in Alabama's recent recruiting success - in the past three years almost30 percent of the most highly touted players who have signed with the team have not made the final roster. But Hinton isn't scrambling for snake oil here, his point is in terms of program dominance and we are likely going to have difficulty in the near term against the Floridas and LSUs of the world that keep the bleeding of such talent to under 20 percent.
Of course the next question is what the hell happens to the Mike Fords of the world who were expected to dominate but never played a down wearing crimson and white? Pop over to the Bleacher Report and Walter Kirkwood has penned an article looking at just that - the 14 players who donned the Alabama hat on Signing Day 2005 but never made the final roster. It's an interesting look at some you know the story of (Jimmy Johns) and a few you probably don't (Nick Kyles).
The impressive thing about this is when you look at how folks like a two-star quarterback and a safety-net running back turned into the great players we saw on the field this year. That's a testament to just how much we owe the seniors we just bid goodbye to for the current state of this program.
Anyhow, the lesson here seems to be depth. (Well, duh.) You need it. And it needs to be quality. Saban has loaded up with quality recruits over the past two years (and made a good effort on a third) but he's still filling a ton of holes with the talent that is available (but a stud QB would be nice while you are at it there, coach). And when you spread it that thin, you aren't picking and choosing like you can if you've got a solid stable of talent already in place.
I expect Hinton is right here, we are going to have a bumpy road over the next two years keeping up with the cream of the SEC - particularly if we get the injury bug one of these years. Another undefeated season isn't likely anytime real soon. But I also expect that retention rate to drop in the next few years as well - we'll be getting the players we specifically need and playing them exactly as they should be - and that's when folks need to look out.