The Early Signing Period, increasing Early Enrollees, alongside the Portal and NIL, have all combined made February’s National Signing Day more of a formality than anything. The vast majority of top-end classes are wrapped up before Christmas, with NSD relegated to teams chasing kids out of the Portal, and a stray undecided blue-chipper here and there.
As anticipated, the Crimson Tide had no one else sign-on to the 2023 class, which will finish No. 1 in the nation this year. We’ll have more on the class and the individual players later, you can be sure. But it’s hard not to be excited about this group that has some real dogs in there, and in positions of need too. It’s been about 5-6 years since I was this jazzed about a class (the 2017 class with the Rydeouts and Tua was the last such instance):
After suffering through a disappointing 2022 campaign and complaining about the state of recruiting in the NIL era, all Nick Saban did was go out and reaffirm that he is the greatest, signing the No. 1 class with a whopping nine five-stars (nearly as many as Georgia and Texas combined). That includes a pair of edge rushers in Qua Russaw and Keon Keeley, a much-needed impact receiver in Jalen Hale and two quarterbacks to be a part of the Bryce Young succession plan. The majority of the group is already on campus after enrolling early, but the Crimson Tide still went out on Wednesday to confirm their death grip on the top spot in the team rankings for the 10th time in 13 years.
How good was this class? Third all-time in the history of recruiting rankings:
“Now, obviously, today was signing day and we’re obviously very pleased with the class we’re able to attract, got a good bunch of players, but I think what I liked about this group the most is it seems like they have really good character. We still sort of try to get guys to buy into developing and creating value for their future based on getting an education, being a good person, being the best football player they can be. So I feel like the kind of guys that we were able to attract are the right kind of guys and we’re excited about the class.
“I think the coaching staff did a fantastic job. This is a long-term process. Guys really worked hard at this, not only in the evaluation process, but also in the recruiting process.
Still, with the ESP eclipsing the traditional February NSD date, you can’t help but feel that the sport has been once again stripped of something special, that the college game has become a lot less fun.
It was not uncommon for people to take the day off work, to stay glued to their monitors on NSD to watch the drama unfold. And was there ever drama, and shenanigans, and good ole’ fashioned grab-ass that made it a holiday of sorts for CFB fans.
Who can forget Nick Saban weaponizing Fax Girl?
Or Landon Collins momma?
Or Isaiah Crowell forever winning National Signing Day in the most adorable way:
11 years ago, Isaiah Crowell brought out a baby UGA for his signing day announcement pic.twitter.com/0icVW1ScmT— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) December 21, 2022
Kouandjio was a top five overall prospect and the Laremy Tunsil of the 2011 class. The Maryland native went on ESPN on NSD and announced he would be going to Auburn.
However, it was written all over Kouandjio’s face that he had sincere doubt and second thoughts about the decision. In fact, I think Koaundjio wasn’t even ready to decide on NSD and just announced because he felt forced to.
In a matter of minutes after his decision, we learned he hadn’t faxed his LOI to The Plains.
Kouandjio never did.
The hat games, oh the hat games!
Moms stealing Letters of Intents.
Everything sketchy on earth involving Hugh Freeze!
In short, all of the recent innovations and changes to the administrative structure of the sport has introduced more certainty into signing classes (and I would bet you most coaches prefer it). But it has stolen no small amount of joy in the process.
I miss National Signing Day.
Alabama has several players participating in the Senior Bowl. There are some interesting items of note — like Emil Ekiyor moving further insde to center, and actually doing pretty well.
But this is the really fun one: watching Byron Young make more and more money. He’s been one of our favorites all season, and it’s good to see him turning heads nationally for the same reasons:
The most fun battle of the day was Florida OG O’Cyrus Torrence vs Alabama DTs DJ Dale and Byron Young. These are WARS in the trenches, with power and strength being all these guy’s top attributes. Torrence won plenty more times than he lost, but Young is a fascinating player. He could end up being a guy that plays a long time in the NFL, just as a really solid piece on the interior.
Young may never be a Pro-Bowl type player, and at his position, he almost certainly will never be a star. But he does have a skill set that translates well to the pro game, and he seems like he will be one of those valuable decade-long players who do the dirty, unheralded work on the inside.
Get paid, fellas.
How about some Gump Fuel to replace your morning coffee.
To the arsenal of arsenal of Alabama pithy one-liners (elect to kick ass, Alabama does, make his ass quit, etc.), we now add this one — “Bama did it”
INJECT THIS VIDEO RIGHT INTO ME. pic.twitter.com/Pz2AhZZjND— Bryant-Denny Stadium (@BryantDenny_UA) January 30, 2023
Now, for some not so happy news (when you really think about it): The University of Alabama not only set an all-time revenue record last season, it blasted past its rivals in the SEC:
The school reported a record $214.4 million in revenue for the first fiscal year after the main impact of the global pandemic rocked the collegiate athletics world. Spending also increased past pre-pandemic levels but the athletics department still finished the fiscal year with a profit of $18.5 million, according to the financial report filed to the NCAA and obtained by AL.com through a public records request.
That places Alabama third in the nation, behind Oregon’s Nike money and THE Ohio State frauds.
...and yet we can’t get Greg Byrne to commit to a stadium, not plead poverty, or stop thinking that passing the hat is the only way to get this done. Bet he’ll give himself a raise this year though and a very nice bonus to go with it.
#BTDA and pay your damned people, Greg. I should not be hearing horror stories from long-time middle manager-types stressing a $12 increase in their water bill.
And yet I do.
On the field, the biggest news of note is the return of a hopefully-healthy Justin Eboigbe to a front seven that loses four starters — three of them up the middle.
Prior to his injury, Eboigbe played in the first four games of the 2022 campaign and recorded 11 tackles, 0.5 tackles for loss and two quarterback hurries. A native of Forest Park, Ga., Eboigbe has played in 42 games during his Alabama career and has been a regular contributor on the defensive line in Tuscaloosa, registering 59 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and two sacks.
With Dale and Young turning pro, Alabama will look to replace their production, and guys like Tim Smith and Jaheim Oatis are poised to continue playing key roles up front. Others like Jamil Burroughs, Jah-Marien Latham and Damon Payne are also likely to see their reps increase with the veterans moving on. But the departing leadership will need to be replaced, too, and getting Eboigbe back, whether on or off the field, can help to fill the void in the D-line room.
A veteran presence that plays with leverage is never to be despised. The Tide’s pass rush should still be lethal, but it wasn’t that pressure (or lack thereof) that let ‘Bama down last year; it was consistent defensive line play against concerted rushing attacks. With Eboigbe setting the edge, perhaps it will allow Oatis and others to shine.
That’s about it for now. We’ll see you folks later.
Do you prefer the new Early Signing Period to the one-day National Signing Day?
This poll is closed
No, the chaos and excitement were part of the fun.
Yes, I prefer certainty — and not giving opponents time to work their shenanigans
They’re both equally fine / awful