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Jumbo Package: Putting a ribbon on the best Alabama recruiting class ever

A decade later, Saban tops the historical 2008 Alabama class

NCAA Football: Senior Bowl-South Practice Glenn Andrews-USA TODAY Sports

Today is the NSD2017 fallout and reaction Edition of the Jumbo Package. In just a little while, we’ll have CB’s comprehensive post-NSD recap, looking at Alabama, the conference, and the national picture. Definitely give that a read for extra tidbits, massive details, and his trademark Random Thoughts treatment.

Alabama, however, has done something unseen since 2003 USC — it inked seven players rated 5-stars by a recruiting service. More impressively, this Tide NSD group not only met the expectations of, but actually beat, the record-setting 2008 class signed by Saban & his staff. That class is generally considered to be the best of the last decade, and one of the best classes ever. There is good reason to believe that this year’s group will be looked back upon with the same astonished reverence.

But, the Dynasty is over. Saban is getting old. His heart isn’t into it. He’s going to the Colts, Texas, the Cowboys, the Giants.

Make no mistake, the first week of February is when Saban shines the brightest, and even at 65 he shows no sign of slowing down or of losing his touch in living rooms across the country.

What they’re saying:

Alabama is still the king of the college football recruiting trail, and National Signing Day 2017 isn't even officially over yet. For the seventh year in a row, the Crimson Tide took the No. 1 spot in 247Sports' Composite team rankings on the big day.

It’s not just that Alabama once again closed with the No. 1 class in the country (for roughly the 57th straight year); it's how the Tide did it that was so impressive. You know you’re good when four-star recruits are willing to sit out a year to play for you instead of attending just about any other school in the country. And that’s why Nick Saban and Alabama are the biggest winners on Signing Day 2017.

The NCAA continues to investigate Hugh Freeze’s program and it resulted in a disappointing finish around 35th nationally for the Rebels, a team which has routinely finished in the Top 15 nationally under his watch. Overall, Ole Miss’ class ranked 12th out of 14 SEC programs (ahead of only Missouri and Vanderbilt) and last in the SEC West.

Cheat better, Hugh.

The disappointment Crimson Tide fans carried into the off-season after their favorite program lost in the national championship game should have evaporated on Wednesday. Alabama provided a reminder of why it has been, and will continue to be, so difficult to beat during coach Nick Saban’s tenure.

I don’t really agree with SIs assessment that “losing Solomon really hurt.” Solomon was basically always playing games with the recruiting reporters. I think anyone with some good sense knew he was a Michigan lean. Would it have been nice to have a stud DE? Sure. But Alabama’s defensive line class is far from hurting.

"I don't know how we're rated,'' Saban said. "I didn't know these guys, where they were rated, how many stars they have. I don't know anything about that. We kind of evaluate the players like we're going to draft them and take the guys that meet the criteria, the critical factors that we want at positions.'

Everyone has their “Sure Alabama had the best class but look at X!” For ESPN, it was USC. For SBNation, it was Ohio State. That snippet above is from’s video fo the Saban press conference, btw. You can watch in its entirety below.

Their ‘buts’ aside, I’ll keep this class, thanks.

Ed. Note: Over the next two weeks, we’ll continue to profile the incoming class. We’ve already covered the Spring One early enrollees. Today, we begin our coverage of Spring Two early enrollees. The first group of players reported on the 7th of January; the latter group, smaller in number, will still be able to participate in Spring practice. They arrive on February 13.

I don’t recall who it was,* but someone had taken umbrage with a few of the measurables listed on the earlier profiles. Those numbers are not, despite my fervent wish to save time, pulled out of the ether. Where possible, I use only verified stats. For instance, Najee Harris may be listed at 6’2” on Scouting Report X or Person Y may think he’s 6’3”, but his verified height at The Opening was six-feet one-and-a-half inches. Kids grow, to be sure; and there will be discrepancies in reporting among the services; but, I try to report independently verified information rather than echo chamber stats self-reported by players or promulgated by their coaches.

* I lied. I do know who it was, and I’ve shipped a crate of room temperature dead fish to your place of business.

The Dark Lord speaks

As happy as Nick Saban gets, he is that. Here is his presser from yesterday wrapping up one of Alabama’s most important unofficial holidays.

Finally, have a smile

This is simply fantastic. I needed that. What a great way to engage and connect to your students and show enthusiasm for being there.