Nick Saban is the voice of college football and not just in this region of the country. So when he speaks, people listen.
It was only natural, then, for the veteran head coach to be asked his opinion on a couple of college football issues during the SEC post-spring coaches teleconference Mondaymorning.
The approximately 10-minute conversation didn’t break any new ground so to speak, but there was information to be gleaned.
Alabama’s 2018 recruiting class will consist of 22 student-athletes, Saban revealed. Saban also voiced his opinion on the new recruiting calendar that allows prospective student-athletes the option to sign in December instead of having to wait until February. Those recruits who’ve not yet decided may still sign in February as per usual.
“I think evaluation is important and I think the sooner you have to make decisions on these guys, the greater opportunity you have to make mistakes,” Saban said. “So, we’re trying to make sure that we accelerate and do a great job in the evaluation process and I still think the summer, June, is going to be a real important time for a lot of these guys. But a lot of guys are committing earlier and earlier and I’m sure the biggest fear was that having an earlier signing date was that it is going to become the signing date and it would accelerate recruiting in the season, make more guys take visits in the season.
“These things will probably be true. I don’t know if all those things are good things. I don’t know if accelerating the calendar, like we’re talking about, letting guys visit in the spring, is all that good either. Football is a developmental game. A lot of guys you look at when they’re seniors look a lot different when they were sophomores and juniors. By doing all of this, we sort of minimize the opportunity to be able to evaluate some of those guys, which affects their opportunity, too. So, we can talk about all the opportunity we’re giving guys early. But we’re also eliminating some opportunity for some late bloomers.”
For a recent example of a player Alabama found late in the recruiting process, look no further than running back Josh Jacobs.
A recent rule floating around the American Football Coaches Association is one that would allow a student-athlete to play in up to four games in a season and still be redshirted. Saban, who constantly reminds that football is a developmental game, is in agreement with the proposed rule.
“I would absolutely be in favor to that.”
In more immediate news to the 2017 season, the remaining portion of the 2017 No. 1-ranked recruiting class is scheduled to report to Tuscaloosa for summer enrollment soon. Sixteen members of that class are already enrolled, having gone through the spring semester and spring practice.
Saban said all the remaining members of the class are making progress towards fully qualifying.
“That’s a work in progress with a lot of guys,” Saban said. “Nobody really qualifies until they graduate. But our assumption is that everybody’s making the kind of progress that they need to make to be able to qualify.”