Saban will reserve his own class rankings until the players have proven themselves on the field. "I really do think that the most accurate way to be able to rank any recruiting class would be three years down the road," he said. This one certainly looks impressive with seven five-star recruits and seven Parade All-Americans plus Florida State transfer quarterback Jake Coker. Alabama got the top-rated prospect in Alabama, Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Virginia, according to the 247Sports composite rankings.
"They got a stud at every single position," said Greg Biggins, a national recruiting analyst for Scout.com. "There's not one single area that they didn't fill with an impact type of kid. They can recruit nationally unlike anyone right now. They're on a different level."
Winning a national championship in the BCS era required nearly as much luck as it did talent, as the Crimson Tide can well attest. In 2011 and '12, Alabama was fortunate that enough other contenders lost in November to allow it to climb back into the top two. In '13, however, the Crimson Tide were unfortunate enough to be on the wrong end of the first-ever game-winning touchdown return of a missed field goal -- the dramatic 109-yard scamper by Auburn's Chris Davis. 'Bama is often favored to win titles, but only the most diehard Tide fan could annually expect something so inherently capricious.
And as usual, most of the Southeastern Conference got glittering grades from the experts. None better than Alabama. The Crimson Tide sat atop the rankings for Rivals, Scout, 247sports and ESPN. Alabama signed six of 33 players given five-star ratings by Rivals, including Rashaan Evans, a linebacker from Auburn High School who didn’t decide to roll with the Tide until Wednesday, passing joining his hometown Tigers. No other school had more than three five-stars. "He kind of lapped the field," Tom Lemming of CBS Sports Network said about Saban.
While FSU landed the top class in the state and one of the best in the country, it and everyone else lagged far behind consensus top-ranked Alabama. "They're the best in the country," Nee said. "And it's not close." The Crimson Tide had Rivals' and 247Sports' No. 1 class each of the past four seasons, but this was the most decorated class of coach Nick Saban's career. Alabama gained six five-star talents in a class Rivals national recruiting director Mike Farrell called, "historically good." Alabama picked up the country's top recruit (defensive end Da'Shawn Hand) plus the No. 1 offensive tackle, No. 1 center and No. 2 athlete. The coronation became complete after the nation's No. 1 linebacker, Rashaan Evans, announced on national television he would sign with the Tide — even though he went to Auburn High School and his dad played for the rival Tigers. "To go in and get a legacy out of Auburn, that's a message," Farrell said.
All told, Alabama signed a college football best 19 ESPN 300 athletes, the most since Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa in 2007. His first recruiting class finished a lackluster 17th nationally, according to ESPN. But given a full calendar year to crisscross the recruiting trail, Saban and his staff thrived. From 2008 on, Alabama never failed to finish lower than third in the ESPN Class Rankings, becoming the only program in the country to do so. "I've never heard anybody say they've had a bad class," Saban said. "I've never heard anybody say they haven't identified their needs. "So I'm going to say the same thing: We had a good class and we sort of identified our needs."
Alabama lost out on a chance of winning its third consecutive BCS national championship when its perfect season was ended by Auburn in the Iron Bowl, a performance which was followed up by a lackluster showing in a loss to Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl, but the Crimson Tide have wasted no time in attempting to correct their late-season woes and get back to being the cream of the crop. Of the Tide's initial 25 commitments, they have locked down five five-star recruits, according to Rivals.com (only four other programs were able to nab more than one).
1. Alabama Past five recruiting rankings: 1st in 2013, 1st in 2012, 1st in 2011, 5th in 2010, 2nd in 2009. Top 100 signees: 13. Top recruit: OT Cameron Robinson, No. 4 overall, West Monroe (La.) High. Buzz: Yawn -- another recruiting cycle, another top-ranked class for the Tide. Alabama signed six of the nation's top 16 players, and four of them attended out-of-state high schools. Alabama signed the top-ranked player in Alabama, and also reeled in the top guy in Iowa, Virginia, South Carolina and Oklahoma (a quarterback from Norman, which can't please Bob Stoops).
That can be seen with the six players outside of the SEC footprint that Alabama expects to sign Wednesday on the first day of the signing period. One already is on campus in quarterback David Cornwell of Norman, Okla. Players in the South grow up understanding the impact of the Crimson Tide. Now, players in the Midwest and on the West Coast do, too. "It does make the team interesting and it spices things up," said incoming recruit Keith Holcombe, who is from Tuscaloosa. "Growing up in the South, you have a certain personality down here. Bringing players in from all over the country, it makes Alabama the best. You seek the best, and you feed off one another."
The duo combined to lure three of the six five-star recruits who signed with Alabama.