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Alabama Crimson Tide Recruiting: Early Signing Day Recap

The Tide held on to all their commits while flipping a top-100 running back from Oklahoma. A good day.

NCAA Football: Alabama vs Duke John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

The first day of Early Signing Period has come and gone, and, for the most part, the dust has settled everywhere. There will be a few stragglers to announce in the next day or two, but the bulk of the early announcers were done today.

For Alabama’s part, they had no surprise losses from their class while picking up a top-100 running back that flipped from Oklahoma in Jase McClellan, all while signing 22 total recruits, 50% of which are in the top 101 in the nation. Here’s the list (along with those designated to enroll early).

Bryce Young QB (Santa Ana, CA) 6’0”/180 EE

Chris Braswell LB (Baltimore, MD) 6’3”/225 EE

Drew Sanders LB (Denton, TX) 6’5”/212 EE

Demouy Kennedy LB (Theodore, AL) 6’2”/215 EE

Will Anderson DE (Hampton, GA) 6’4”/235 EE

Roydell Williams RB (Hueytown, AL) 5’10”/210 EE

Thaiu Jones-Bell WR (Carol City, FL) 5’11”/190 EE

Jackson Bratton LB (Muscle Shoals, AL) 6’3”/226 EE

Malachi Moore DB (Trussville, AL) 6’0”/175 EE

Traeshon Holden WR (Harbor City, CA) 6’3”/200 EE

Jahquez Robinson DB (Jacksonville, FL) 6’2”/180 EE

Ronald Williams DB (Ferriday, LA) 6’2”/190 EE

Seth McLaughlin OL (Buford, GA) 6’4”/275 EE

Quandarrius Robinson LB (Birmingham, AL) 6’5”/217

Brian Branch DB (Tyrone, GA) 6’1”/178

Tim Smith DT (Sebastian, FL) 6’4”/315

Jah-Marien Latham DT (Pickens County, AL) 6’3”/290

Kristian Story ATH (Lanett, AL) 6’2”/198

Javion Cohen OL (Phenix City, AL) 6’5”/296

Kyle Edwards RB (Destrehan, LA) 6’0”/210

Caden Clark TE (Akron, OH) 6’4”/230

Jase McClellan RB (Aledo, TX) 5’10” 205

Committed, but unsigned

Damieon George OL (Houston, TX) 6’7”/345

George was originally supposed to sign today, but has delayed his announcement. Apparently, he’s undecided as to whether he wants sign tomorrow or wait until February.

Javon Baker WR (Powder Springs, GA) 6’1”/183

Jayson Jones DT (Calera, AL) 6’5”/322

Jamil Burroughs DT (Powder Springs, GA) 6’3”/320

The other three— Baker, Jones, and Burroughs— plan to sign on the original signing day in February, so no surprises there.

Here’s what Nick Saban had to say afterwards:

“We have several more guys that will either sign later or have already signed but have not released it yet, and we have agreed not to release it for them,” Saban said after Wednesday’s Citrus Bowl practice. “So, those guys, we really can’t talk about. … We’re pleased.

“We were able to identify some needs early. I thought we filled those needs. Probably the most important thing is, I think, this is really a character, quality group of young men. We don’t have guys that have any issues or whatever, and they’ve worked really hard and been great teammates for the teams that they’ve played for. So, we basically have 20 players that we can talk about, but we do have room to continue to recruit several other players.

“We’re actually excited about that, as well.”

Saban said this before it was announced that McClellan flipped, though he did send in his LOI earlier in the morning, but asked to not have it reported until he had a party this evening. Traeshon Holden also didn’t sign until after this, due to his west coast time zones.

Saban definitely made it clear there was more than one guy that signed and had asked to not be announced until later. There’s plenty of recruits to speculate on there, such as 5-star Darnell Washington, who was believed to have planned on doing just that with some college and announcing it at the All-American Game in January.

“I think that defensive players, we wanted to get a couple more guys up front. I think we did,” said Saban of Alabama’s needs. “We’re still going to try to add to that in the future. Edge players. … We wanted to get at least four DBs … two safeties and two corners to sort of add to that group. We’ve trying to play catchup since we had six guys leaves a couple years ago all at one -- four seniors and two guys to go out early for the draft. So, it’s been a work in progress to try to develop enough depth in that group. That was a need.

Alabama got two clear edge rushers in 5-star Chris Braswell and 4-star Will Anderson, plus two multi-purpose linebackers in Que Robinson and 5-star Drew Sanders. If Saban is still recruiting another, then he’s likely talking about Alfred Collins, the 4-star DE out of Texas.

As for DBs, he got two corners with Jahquez Robinson and JUCO Ronald Williams, plus two safeties with Malachi Moore and Brian Branch. That he didn’t include Kristian Story in that count might mean the staff is planning on letting him start out at QB, rather than immediately put him as a safety.

“We always want to at least replace the offensive linemen. We feel good about that, which I know some of it hasn’t been released yet. Wide receiver, we always try to do things one year in advance, not knowing for sure the future at that position in some ways. Always important to get a really quality quarterback, which we feel really good about Bryce Young. I mean, the guy was outstanding as a high school player. Very mature, very smart. Good leader. Played in a great program. Has high expectations for himself, as well as what the team should accomplish.

So unless Saban’s thoughts were rambling, Alabama has at least one more OL signed already. And if George is still weighing whether or not to sign (and not whether or not to announce), then might there be another? If so, I don’t really have a clue as to who it might be.

“And we felt like depth at running back was something that we needed, as well. We still want to recruit. We’ve got one tight end, and we still would entertain another one at that position. So, we still have a few spots that we’d like to add to. There wasn’t one specific thing, but it’s sort of what are you going to lose versus what are you going to gain type of approach in how we want to try to recruit guys.”

With Roydell Williams, Kyle Edwards, and Jase McClellan, Alabama definitely stocked up on depth at running back.

And you know that the tight end comment was for 5-star Darnell Washington.

Also of note is how heavily Alabama leaned on in-state players this time around. 8 of the 22 players are from in-state, including all of the top 3 from Alabama. Some may speculate that in-state players just might have an extra edge of motivation against certain rivals than others from across the country. Not me, necessarily, but I can always paint anything to be an extra plus.

Alabama hung on to the number 2 class ranking, and separated a little from Ohio State with the commitment of McClellan. Alabama is basically neck and neck with Clemson, so one commitment more than the Tigers between now and February might see the Tide take the top spot.

Jordan Burch, the 5th overall player, was thought to be headed to either Clemson or Georgia, but shocked both and chose to stay with his hometown in Columbia, South Carolina. His commitment would have made Clemson untouchable or put Georgia almost even with Alabama. However the drama didn’t stop, as he still has not actually signed, and is just committed to the Gamecocks. Might he pull another shock in the coming months?

The other fun news of the day was LSU losing the commitment of 5-star receiver Rakim Jarrett, who signed with Coach Mike Locksley and the Maryland Terrapins near his hometown. The Tigers also lost the commitment of 4-star receiver Jermaine Burton. You just hate to see it.

Ultimately, 6 of the top 10 recruiting classes are from the SEC, and 4 of those are all in the SEC West. So if anyone ever tells you that a team OBVIOUSLY can’t be one of the best in the nation if they didn’t win their division, just pull out this little nugget of trivia.