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In 2007, Nick Saban Was Still Figuring Out Recruiting

A look back at Saban’s first Alabama recruiting class.

NCAA Football: Arkansas at Alabama
Rolando McClain on the prowl.
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

More reminiscing as we look back on Nick Saban’s first Alabama recruiting class in 2007.

Mike Shula is credited with the first nine commits. As with most classes, there were some hits and misses. But he was off to a good start before getting the boot on November 26, 2006.

  • DB Chris Lett Pensacola, FL 4-stars, 05/25/06 - Lett was a pretty big deal coming out of high school but a diabetic condition ended his playing days early with the Crimson Tide. He transferred to South Alabama but it is unclear if he ever played for the Jags.
  • RB Jamar Taylor Lakeland, FL 3-stars, 06/08/06 - This one is kinda sad. I’m not sure if he ever suited up for the Tide. He transferred to USF and had some success there. However, he died of a brain aneurysm in 2021 at age 33.
  • LB Jennings Hester Atlanta, GA 2-stars, 06/14/06 - He had some injuries and never played a game.

Here’s where it starts to get good.

  • DE Alex Watkins Brownsville, TN 4-stars, 06/19/06 - Watkins took a couple of years to get going but was a solid contributor in 2010 and 2011.
  • LB Rolando McClain Decatur, AL 4-stars, 06/22/06 - Have you heard of this guy? He was pretty good.
  • DT Alfred McCullough Athens, AL 4-stars, 07/09/06 - Started out on the D-line and transitioned over to the OL. He backed up James Carpenter a few years and saw a good deal of play on special teams.
  • DT Nick Gentry Prattville, AL 3-stars, 08/07/06 - On paper, he backed up starter Josh Chapman at nose guard. But he played about as many snaps as Chapman did. One of the “smaller” NTs you’ll ever see, he was a relently pass rusher and key to the 2011 defense. He served as an assistant at Jacksonville State and then on Bill Clark’s UAB staff for several years.
  • OL William Vlachos Birmingham, AL 3-stars, 09/14/06 - At 6’1” and around 285, he was considered small even by late 2000s standards. He became a three-years starter at center, including the 2009 and 2011 National Champs. After graduation, he served at Alabama for awhile and has made assistant stops with the Buffalo Bills, Colorado, and Central Michigan. He is currently a coach at WKU.
  • OL Patrick Crump Hoover, AL 3-stars, 09/14/06 - Check out RBR’s outstanding coverage of Crump’s Alabama career!

Here is when Saban took over.

  • DT Kerry Murphy Hoover, AL 4-stars, 01/15/07 - Along with Chapman, Crump, and Ross Wilson, he was part of the Hoover team from the MTV show “Two-A-Days”. Murphy originally signed in 2007 but failed to qualify. After year at Hargrave Military Academy, he gave it another shot but could not qualify. He would finally enroll in 2009 but injuries and the arrival of Mount Cody kept him on the sidelines. He was placed on medical hardship for the 2011 season and never played again.
  • QB Nick Fanuzzi San Antonio, TX 3-stars, 01/23/07 - Here’s a trivia question for you: “Who was Saban’s first QB recruit at Alabama?” A former Army All-American, Fanuzzi played a few insignificant snaps for Bama and then transferred to Rice where he was a three year starter.
  • DB Kareem Jackson Macon, GA 4-stars, 01/23/07 - Still playing in the NFL at age 35!
  • DT Luther Davis West Monroe, LA 4-stars, 01/27/07 - Originally flipping from LSU, he had a solid career on the Tide DL.
  • TE Chris Underwood Birmingham, AL 2-stars, 01/29/07 - Had a few receptions but was mostly a blocking tight end.
  • RB Demetrius Goode LaGrange, GA 4-stars, 01/29/07 - Could never break into the RB rotation and transferred to Terry Bowden’s North Alabama after the 2010 season. (No relation to the Town Creek Goodes)
  • WR Darius Hanks Norcross, GA 3-stars, 01/30/07 - Third WR from 2009-11; 84 recs, 1150 yds, 7 TD on his career.
  • DB Tarence Farmer Houston, TX 3-stars, 02/02/07 - Transferred to Houston after one season.
  • DE Chavis Williams Dora, AL 3-stars, 02/03/07 - Contributed mostly as a third-down pass rusher and on special teams. Head coach of Dora High School.
  • DE Jeremy Elder College Park, GA 2-stars, 02/05/07 - Never played for Bama. Robbed two UA students at gunpoint for $26. Got leniency and was able to transfer to Georgia Military Academy. Ended up at Troy.

February 7, 2007 - was National Signing Day.

  • DT Josh Chapman Hoover, AL 3-stars, 02/07/07 - Multi-year starter, four years with the Colts, currently Alabama assistant strength coach. I’m sure you heard about him and Jamil Burroughs.
  • RB Jeramie Griffin Batesville, MS 3-stars, 02/07/07 - Career derailed by knee injuries.
  • ATH Marquis Maze Birmingham, AL 3-stars, 02/08/07 - Three year starter and punt returner; 136 recs, 1844 rec yds, 8 rec TD, 1261 ret yds, 1 ret TD, 1 TD pass vs Florida. DYK: Flipped from Michigan!
  • DB Michael Ricks Booneville, MS 4-stars, 02/08/07 - Possibly did not qualify. Went to Northeast Community College in Mississippi before landing at Stillman College.
  • WR Brandon Gibson Mobile, AL 4-stars, 02/08/07 - 20 career recs, 204 yds, 1 TD; also special teams player.


Rivals put this class as the 10th best in the nation. (now swallowed into 247sports) had it at No. 12.

  1. Florida (Urban Meyer)
  2. Southern Cal (Pete Carroll)
  3. Tennessee (FFPF)
  4. LSU (Les Miles - National Champs)
  5. Texas (Mack Brown)
  6. South Carolina (Steve Spurrier)
  7. Auburn (Tommy Tuberville)
  8. Notre Dame (Charlie Weis)
  9. Georgia (Mark Richt)
  10. Alabama


  • Heralded 4-star QB Robert Marve committed to Shula before the transfer of power. Shortly after Saban’s arrival, he took an official visit to Miami and then flipped to the Hurricanes a few days later. I suppose he did not like the message Saban conveyed to him. Marve redshirted his freshman year after breaking an arm in a car accident over the summer. He became the starter in 2008, but was benched for the opener due to a Halloween arrest in which he was charged with two misdemeanors, resisting arrest without violence and criminal mischief, after he punched and broke a car mirror then tried to elude police by running away. He would only manage to lead the ‘Canes to a 6–5 record and was benched in favor of Jacory Harris for the final regular season game and the bowl game. Three days after the bowl game, Marve announced that he would be transferring. He would land at Purdue and had an unremarkable and injury-plagued career. He later spent some time in the Canadian Football League. More recently, he has been in trouble with the law for smacking women around.
  • Tampa 3-star DB Sherod Murdock was good friends with Marve and they decided to commit to Alabama in order to play together under Shula. After Saban’s arrival, he too would flip heading to Pitt. Without playing a down, Murdock was dismissed from the Panthers after a fight with a teammate. He ended up knocking around jucos for a few years before disappearing into the mist.
  • DL LaMarcus Williams flipped to Mississippi State where he started one game while playing 23 of the 25 games in two seasons before back surgery ended his career.