The day began on a low note when Alabama commitment Bobby Brown opted to sign with Texas A&M. It ended with the addition of key offensive target Jaleyn Waddle.
In between, Alabama did what it sought to do in the 2018 recruiting class, which was to address specific needs at defensive back and defensive line.
From that standpoint, UA coach Nick Saban admitted he’d have liked one more defensive lineman, but that he was more than pleased with the five-man defensive back class he signed.
“I think in every recruiting class there’s always a guy that you get that you thought you might not get and there’s also a guy that you thought you might get that you didn’t get,” Saban said. “But overall, I think we solved a lot of needs in this class, and we had to recruit by need. We needed to get some defensive backs because we’ve never lost this many guys at one position at one time. I think we did a great job in that area.”
The nation’s No. 1 prep cornerback, Patrick Surtain Jr., signed with Alabama to round out a defensive back class that also included Eddie Smith, Saivion Smith, Josh Jobe and Jalyn Armour-Davis. That was imperative considering the Crimson Tide loses the entire starting dime secondary from 2017.
“Patrick Surtain is probably one of the top guys in the country at his position,” Saban said. “Saivion Smith is a top junior college guy at his position. We got three other guys — the top DB in the state, Jalyn Armour-Davis. We felt good about the five guys we were able to attract at that position. Those guys are going to have a great opportunity to compete on our team.
“Patrick’s a little longer type guy, the kind of guy we like here. Very instinctive player. He’s got good speed. Uses his length well. He’s got good ball skills. Good ball judgment. Can play man to man. Not afraid to get up and press people. That’s a good style for him and that’s our style here.”
Losing Brown was the most detrimental outcome of the day, although losing out on the state’s top-ranked player Justyn Ross was also painful to UA. Brown had committed to Alabama in December after a drama-filled recruitment. He chose to stay in state and sign with the Aggies.
“I think we’ve all kind of grown to understand that commitments don’t really mean a whole bunch in a lot of cases,” Saban said. Saban wasn’t specifically addressing Brown. UA also lost commitment Quay Walker to Georgia on the day.
Not done yet?
As for the defensive line, Saban did give one nugget of information that he might not be done with the position just yet.
“We’re actually hoping to maybe get one more defensive lineman in this class,” Saban said. “We feel really good about the two guys that we got. Stephon Wynn is a really good player, a big power guy. (Christian) Barmore is the same kind of guy. I think some of the outside backer type guys that we recruited in the past have become defensive lineman, so the fact that we got some really good guys at outside backer that have really good size may grow into something else in their career here. If we’ve had our druthers we’d have got one more guy.”
Saban also said that he expects “a quarterback to join us some kind of way between now and then.” If UA does add a quarterback more than likely it will be in the form of a graduate transfer.
Waddle saves the day
One of the biggest prizes of the day came when Texas wide receiver Waddle announced and signed with the Crimson Tide. He’s long been one of the program’s most coveted players in the 2018 class.
“Jaylen is an outstanding, outstanding young man,” Saban said. “We had him in camp last summer. We’ve recruited him for a long time. He’s got great quickness, change of direction, run after catch. Really an outstanding overall receiver, but would work really well for us in the slot. May be a little bit different than some of the guys that we have right now, which is a really good thing.”
Perhaps it wasn’t the close some UA fans hoped for on National Signing Day, but Saban wouldn’t allow that the team missed at any position.
“I really don’t think we struck out anywhere to be honest with you,” he said. “We would’ve liked to get two inside linebackers, we got one. Does that mean we struck out? No. We’d have taken another defensive lineman, we could’ve taken another offensive lineman, we got the right number of DBs, we got a punter. So I wouldn’t say we struck out.”
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