Never, ever give Nick Saban an extra week to recruit.
While he normally spends a week in December preparing for the SEC Championship, Saban instead took the time to get his ducks in a row and fly up to Iowa to visit Kadyn Proctor, then took off around the country and back to Tuscaloosa in the couple of weeks leading up to the National Signing Period.
Alabama signed every single one of their previously committed players that were already the #1 ranked class in the country, and then added four 5-Stars to close it out.
First, it was Kadyn Proctor, the massive lineman flipping from Iowa. Then the instate duo from Carver High, James Smith and Qua Russaw, finally decided and jumped on board with Alabama. Then, on Thursday, IMG Academy cornerback Desmond Ricks chose the Tide over LSU. And in between it all, high-four star safety Tony Mitchell also stuck with the Tide despite rumors about him flirting with Auburn, and the 5-star Georgia duo of Caleb Downs and Justice Haynes stuck with the commitment to Alabama despite significant pressure from UGA.
Just a massive, massive haul from top to bottom. Using the 247Composite, Alabama’s 328.97 total score is the best Nick Saban has ever signed — edging out 2021 and 2017 — and the second-best of all-time, behind Texas A&M’s class last year (which... a bunch have already left the Aggies since then).
The Tide’s only 3-star signee is a kicker, who’s ranked 3rd at his position, and they also signed the #1 and #2 JUCO players in WR Malik Benson and ILB Justin Jefferson.
With 28 players in the class, it’s pretty well complete at this point. The NCAA recently lifted the 25-per-class rule, so the Tide can continue to add to this class for the February signing period as long as the final fall roster is under 85 total scholarships.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the class with some thoughts:
Eli Holstein - 4 stars, #74 overall, #9 QB
Dylan Lonergan - 4 stars, #140 overall, #11 QB
Alabama pulled two highly-rated QBs here. Holstein is a physical specimen with a whole bunch of upside as a passer and a runner, while Lonergan committed later, and as a two-way baseball player, is probably a better and more polished pure passer with a highly competitive attitude.
Justice Haynes - 5 stars, #25 overall, #3 RB
Richard Young - 4 stars, #48 overall, #4 RB
Haynes and Young have both, at one point or another, been in the conversation as the best RB in the country. Haynes is a complete back who’s a 4-year starter around the Atlanta area, while Young is a little more raw, but likely more athletic. These two should make a dynamic one-two punch, though there’s always room for a 3rd RB since they all get injured so often.
Jalen Hale - 4 star, #40 overall, #7 WR
Malik Benson - 4 star, #1 JUCO, #1 JUCO WR
Jaren Hamilton - 4 star, #285 overall, #39 WR
Cole Adams - 4 star, #304 overall, #43 WR
With such an exodus of wide receivers in the transfer portal, don’t be surprised if Saban looks to add one more for depth here. Jalen Hale is an all-around star talent and JUCO Malik Benson is an extremely dynamic player. Hamilton is more of a height/speed project of a player, and Cole Adams fills out the depth.
Ty Lockwood - 4 star, #235, #13 overall
The one time Ohio State commit is a tall receiving threat who has really good straight line speed and downfield receiving skills. He needs some size to develop as a blocker, though. Like with receivers, this could be another position that Saban looks for one more player.
Kaydyn Proctor - 5 stars, #12 overall, #2 OT
Wilkin Formby - 4 stars, #77 overall, #8 OT
Olaus Alinen - 4 stars, #191 overall, #16 OT
Miles McVay - 4 stars, #200 overall, #18 OT
Ryqueeze McElderry - 4 stars, #376 overall, #23 IOL
Proctor and Formby are towering 6’7” pure outside tackle types, while Alinen and McVay are versatile T/G combo players. McVay in particular is north of 350 pounds and is most likely to end up inside. McElderry is also north of 330 pounds and is a pure guard.
This group is probably finished, though I could see a pure center getting added if the right guy showed up, since the Tide is down so many players along the OL to the NFL, graduation, and Portal.
James Smith - 5 stars, #18 overall, #2 DL
Jordan Renaud - 4 stars, #62 overall, #7 DL
Hunter Osborne - 4 stars, #144 overall, #17 DL
Edric Hill - 4 stars, #182 overall, #24 DL
James Smith and Edric Hill are both 300-pound DT types, while Osborne and Renaud are still around the 250-260 range, and will need to add 20 pounds or so to make the move to a pure interior DL position. Smith in particular is the rare explosive interior pass rusher who could be a difference maker for years to come.
Keon Keeley - 5 stars, #10 overall, #1 edge
Qua Russaw - 5 stars, #22 overall, #3 edge
Yhonzae Pierre - 4 stars, #59 overall, #8 edge
Justin Jefferson - 4 stars, #2 JUCO, #1 JUCO LB
This is a group with some serious top level talent, but not quite as much depth. Keeley and Pierre are pure edge rushers that just ooze pass rush potential. Russaw is an edge/off-ball LB hybrid similar to someone like Rashaan Evans. Jefferson is the only pure inside linebacker, but is a JUCO guy.
So don’t be surprised if inside backer is another position they look to add later.
Caleb Downs - 5 stars, #6 overall, #1 S
Desmond Ricks - 5 stars, #23 overall, #2 CB
Jahlil Hurley - 4 stars, #38 overall, #4 CB
Tony Mitchell - 4 stars, #54 overall, #5 S
Brayson Hubbard - 4 stars, #334 overall, #15 ATH
With this group, we have a true outside corner in Ricks and a true safety in Downs. Downs in particular is the kind of talent that can be the face and enforcer of the defense for years.
Jahlil Hurley and Tony Mitchell are versatile players who both may get a first look at Star, but could wind up at outside corner or safety.
And then there’s Hubbard. The high school QB is a bit of an unknown project. He’s an absolute terror with the ball in his hands due to his long stride, and at 6’2” 200, he’s got the body type to be an eraser at safety. Word is that Alabama’s coaching staff was the first to pitch to him that he could be a defensive player over a year ago, and he’s kind of latched onto that.
Overall, this a versatile group with a lot of upside as well as polish.
Conor Talty - 3 star, #3 overall kicker
Hey look! A kicker! Hope he’s good, as he’ll be replacing Will Reichard and will hopefully hold down the job for 4 years.
As I said before, this is a monster of a class. Defensively, there are talents at every level that could be culture-changers. And offensively, there was a renewed focus on size in the trenches and dynamic, one-cut running backs to go along with two more high level QBs.
It’s a good day to be an Alabama fan. Roll Tide!