The flip of five-star quarterback from Bryce Young from USC to Alabama during the regular season was enough to generate unchecked excitement in Tuscaloosa and continue the existential crisis in Los Angeles.
UA coach Nick Saban’s high opinion of Bryce Young is enough to justify both.
Young was one of 10 top 100 prospects in the 247 Sports Composite among the 21 signees UA secured on the first day of the early signing period. Young is the highest rated among them, rated as the top dual-threat quarterback in the nation, the No. 2 prospect in California and the No. 6 player in the nation.
“Always important to get a really quality quarterback which, you know, we feel really good about Bryce, a young guy who’s outstanding as a high school player, very mature, very smart, good leader, played in a great program, has high expectations for himself as well as what the team should accomplish,” Saban said. “I just absolutely love the guy, his character. He’s got a great family. He’s got all the right stuff and I think that’s really important in the quarterback position.
“You’ve heard me say this many times before, if you play quarterback, it’s hard to play the position if the people around you don’t play well so having great leadership qualities can contribute to that. I think Bryce certainly possesses those qualities.”
Story’s story to be determined
Alabama signed two players given the athlete distinction by 247 Sports: Drew Sanders and Kristian Story.
Sanders has already been deemed a linebacker in UA’s signing day release. Story remains to be determined.
“Kristian Story is a great athlete. I think Kristian actually sees himself at another position and he’s been so productive in so many ways, whether it’s running the ball, throwing touchdown passes, making interceptions on defense,” Saban said. “I think this guy is a unique athlete with great character. His dad is a coach; very bright, smart; plays the game very instinctively where ever he plays.
“Like I always tell guys, look, we want you to play where you think you have the best opportunity to develop a career as football player and we give everybody an opportunity to do that. And we certainly will in his case as well. He’ll determine where he starts out playing and if we think there’s a better spot for him, we’ll go from there.”
Expectations for Williams
The lone junior college signing of UA’s early period was a cornerback, Ronald Williams out of Hutchinson Community College in Kansas. The expectation is for him to give UA something tangible immediately.
“As I told him and I told you before, if we take a junior college guy, that guy has two years to play. So we have not typically recruited a whole lot of junior college guys but the junior college guys that we have, have fulfilled a need and been able to contribute and play early on here and play well for us,” Saban said. “So we’re hopeful that will be the case. He’s got really good size. He’s played Star, safety and corner so he has versatility as a player.
“He played at a really good junior college program where they’ve had a lot of success and he was a real contributor to that so we’re excited about the opportunity to have a guy like that to add to the group so we’re not too awful young, get a little maturity as well.”
The 22 signees hailed from eight states: nine from Alabama, three each from Florida and Georgia, two each from California and Texas and one each from Louisiana, Maryland and Ohio. Fourteen of them are Under Armour All-Americans and all of them were given a four-star ranking by at least one of 247Sports, Rivals or ESPN.
The class contains one quarterback, three running backs, two wide receivers, a tight end, two offensive linemen, four defensive linemen, four linebackers, four defensive backs and an athlete.
UA has commitments from the following players who did not sign on Wednesday: wide receiver Javon Baker of Powder Springs, Georgia; defensive lineman Jayson Jones of Calera, Alabama; defensive lineman Jamil Burroughs of Powder Springs, Georgia; and offensive lineman Damien George of Houston, Texas.