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Countdown to kickoff: Alabama’s ‘17 recruiting class is the most decorated in history

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What a collection of talent Nick Saban assembled four years ago.

College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Capital One Orange Bowl - Alabama v Oklahoma Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Alabama’s 2017 class burst onto the scene in the 2017 national championship game. That game is defined by Tua Tagovailoa’s iconic performance, culminating in the walk-off TD pass to classmate DeVonta Smith, but there were also major contributions from Alex Leatherwood, Jedrick Wills, Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs III, and Najee Harris.

Amazingly, every one of those guys would go in the first round of the NFL Draft in either 2019 or 2020. Mac Jones, who was stashed deep on the bench as an afterthought, would join them, bringing the total to eight first round picks in a single class. Second rounder Xavier McKinney and sixth rounder Isaiah Buggs bring the total number drafted to an even ten thus far, while LaBryan Ray, Phidarian Mathis, Christopher Allen and Brian Robinson all have a great chance at being drafted in 2022.

Dylan Moses, who started at MLB on the 2020 national title team and went undrafted due to concerns over his knee, also garners a mention here as he most certainly would have been drafted absent the gruesome injury. Dylan was picked up by the Jacksonville Jaguars and is working himself back to full strength.

The list of accolades for the 2017 class is nothing short of absurd:

  • Seven All-Americans
  • Devonta Smith won a Heisman trophy plus Biletnikoff, Maxwell, Walter Camp, and Paul Hornung awards, among others, and broke school records for catches, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns
  • Tua Tagovailoa won Maxwell and Walter Camp awards, and holds the all-time NCAA career passer rating record but had his Heisman stolen
  • Mac Jones won Manning, Davey O’Brien, and Johnny Unitas Golden Arm awards, and holds the NCAA single season career passer rating
  • Najee Harris won a Doak Walker award and broke the school rushing record
  • Alex Leatherwood won an Outland trophy
  • Jerry Jeudy won a Biletnikoff Award

Thus far the class has produced two national championships and two SEC championships, and if Alabama is to win another they will get solid contributions from some of those who are still around. Amazingly, Tagovailoa and Jones are number one and two, respectively, in career NCAA passer rating. It is surreal that they both arrived at the same school in the same class, and in this day and age that Jones stuck around long enough to enjoy the fruits of his labor. It also, of course, speaks to the arsenal of talent around them.

The 2021 class may be the highest rated according to recruiting rankings, but that 2017 class was one for the ages.

We are now 17 days from kickoff.

Roll Tide.