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Jumbo Package: Saban closes in on another historic recruiting haul

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Your latest Crimson Tide news and notes.

NCAA Football: College Football Playoff National Championship-Clemson vs Alabama Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Monday, everyone. The original National Signing Day arrives on Wednesday, and Saban is looking to wrap up yet another stellar class.

With 24 signees on board (good for 311.68 points and still the No. 1 ranking) that leaves roughly five available signee spots come Wednesday when the Tide’s 2019 class wraps up. If all goes according to plan three of those spots will be occupied by Young, Bogle and Robinson, leaving approximately two spots up for grabs as it stands.

So just how high can the Tide’s class finish on Wednesday? And where would that put the Tide among greatest classes of all time?

(1) Florida’s 2010 class: 324.62

(2) Alabama’s 2017 class: 323.87

(3) Georgia’s 2018 class: 323.31

(4) Alabama’s 2014 class: 319.71

(5) Alabama’s 2013 class: 319.50

(6) Ohio State’s 2018 class: 317.06

I don’t get terribly wrapped up in the recruiting titles. There is little discernible difference in the raw talent of the #1 class and the #5 or #6 class most seasons. Player development is paramount, as evidenced by Florida losing 21 games in the four seasons following that #1 class in 2010. Bottom line, sign lots of really good players and coach them well.

In the transfer portal era, retention will also be critical. Remove the now departed Justin Fields and Luke Ford from Georgia’s 2018 class and they fall off of this list altogether. It will be interesting to see if players getting impatient and moving on after a single season becomes a trend.

Speaking of transfers, Alabama is reportedly trying to land a highly accomplished senior punter for next season.

In other South Alabama transfer news, it appears punter Corliss Waitman is close to choosing his next school.

Waitman, also a graduate transfer, officially visited Mississippi State over the weekend. Should he choose the Bulldogs, he would be reunited with former South Alabama head coach Joey Jones.

Waitman also visited Alabama last week, according to 247 Sports. He told 247’s Paul Jones he will likely choose between the Bulldogs and Crimson Tide.

Waitman, who has one season of eligibility remaining, averaged a school record 45.2 yards per punt in 2017, when he was a first-team All-Sun Belt Conference pick. The left-footer posted a 41.7-yard average in 2018 and also handled kickoffs for the Jaguars the last three seasons.

Waitman is from Belgium and lists chess, piano playing, and water tasting (?) among his hobbies. He would be a huge get for the Tide, and is undoubtedly weighing the opportunity to kick in a playoff game against the decreased opportunities to show off his punting skills due to the explosiveness of the Alabama offense.

Donta Hightower had a huge game in a rather forgettable Super Bowl.

We need another field general like him to emerge.

Last, Saban is collecting all of the head coaches.

The USA Today report indicates Mike Stoops, once the head coach at Arizona from 2004 until 2011 and, most recently, the defensive coordinator at Oklahoma, will be in Tuscaloosa. Then there is speculation Major Applewhite, most recently the head coach at Houston and, long ago, Saban’s offensive coordinator at Alabama, might come aboard.

That’s a huge amount of head coaching experience that might be assembled in one place. It’s not entirely about Saban “rehabilitating careers,” although he’s successfully seen Lane Kiffin (who was never technically an analyst, although he did some informal chatting with Saban before he was hired as offensive coordinator) and Mike Locksley,who was an analyst along the way. These are knowledgeable football minds that can help Saban, whose goal appears to be an infusion of as much coaching experience as he can get.

Cecil gets it. Saban really doesn’t care whether working as an analyst gets a guy a better job elsewhere. He just wants as many of the best available football minds on his team as he can find.

That’s about it for today. Have a great week.

Roll Tide.