There are difficulties in evaluating a recruiting class when there is still more recruiting left to go.
Alabama will have another signing day in February. That doesn’t mean any turn of events is likely to knock the Crimson Tide out of its No. 1 national recruiting ranking. In fact, it’s more likely the Alabama will extend its lead over its nearest recruiting competitors when that time comes.
Given that, however, here’s one last look back at Wednesday — by position, as much as possible — and what this 2019 recruiting class might mean for UA.
First, a word about the 2018 class whose season is still ongoing. Nick Saban has never been reluctant to use freshmen and this season was no exception. There were two Freshman All-Americans, one on defense (Patrick Surtain Jr.) and one on offense (Jaylen Waddle.) Saivion Smith, the junior college and LSU transfer, started in the secondary. Ale Kaho, the late addition to the class, was a special-teams monster and seems suited to play more regular-defense linebacker next year. Defensive back Jalyn Armour-Davis looked like a contributor before being knocked out by a knee injury. Overall, the 2018 signing class seemed transitional, its ultimate “ranking” dependent on future development.
On to 2019:
Alabama signed two in-state quarterbacks, both legacies of a sort, in Paul Tyson and Taulia Tagovailoa. Their 2019 roles will be fascinating. Note: Jalen Hurts has not declared his future intentions and I am not speculating. Whether Tua Tagovailoa, Hurts and Mac Jones are back, or whether it’s just Tua and Jones, Alabama seems set for next year, good health permitting. But the new play-four redshirt rule might at least allow for a peek of the freshmen. Another note: Alabama’s 2020 quarterback commitment, Carson Beck, led his team to the large-school championship in Florida and was named that state’s Mr. Football. So somewhere out there, some mad genius of an Alabama fan is dreaming of a 2020 quarterback room that includes both Tagovailoas, a redshirted Jalen Hurts, Tyson, Jones and Beck. Insanity? Sure. Tua is almost certain to turn pro and Jalen hardly seems like the redshirt type. But a five-quarterback controversy would certainly be entertaining. Insane, but entertaining.
Trey Sanders comes in on a wave of bold talk, but don’t expect Najee Harris, who has waited his turn for two years, to step aside. Again, this is written with no speculation about Josh Jacobs’ possible NFL decision. Then there is Brian Robinson to consider. Whatever shakes out — and note that running back commitment Kielan Robinson did not sign on Wednesday — Alabama seems set.
How much playing time could Alabama promise with the four-headed monster it has returning? The one signee, John Metchie, seems solid. This has to be a 2020 priority position.
Alabama loaded up at a loaded position. One can argue that Evan Neal was the Crimson Tide’s best signee regardless of ranking. But even the lesser-known names like Darrian Dalcourt look strong.
A tremendous group signed, and Alabama would absolutely like to sign two more in February, including committed-but-not-signed Byron Young. If there is a single overriding question about the 2019 season, it is how the Crimson Tide reloads on the defensive line should all its 2018 starters go to the NFL.
Also a position of need, even if Mack Wilson, who has been dropping big hints about staying out of the draft, follows through. The depth just never seemed to develop this season, especially on the inside. UA signed four and would like to add one in February.
There is a strong core unit, especially if Trevon Diggs comes back at 100 percent after foot surgery. But no Saban class is going to be thin in the secondary. The two flips — Jeffrey Carter (from Texas A&M) and Jordan Battle (from Ohio State) made a big difference.
Will Reichard comes in with big expectations — and can punt. But if Skyler DeLong struggles in the spring, would a grad transfer punter (assuming one is available) make sense?
In all, this 2019 class has the potential to form a foundation into the next decade — especially with some extra power in February.
Reach Cecil Hurt at email@example.com or 205-722-0225.
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