How Alabama football recruiting is going after Nick Saban landed 'greatest of all time' class | Hurt
Alabama football has not quite crept into the top 10 of national recruiting rankings for its 2022 football class, although last week’s commitment of Thompson defensive lineman Jeremiah Alexander was a big boost. By Class of 2021 summer rankings a year ago, however, the Crimson Tide is off to a blazing start.
After spending much of last spring hovering around the 50s nationally in rankings like the 247Sports Composite, which we will use for simplicity’s sake, Alabama had, by mid-July, worked its way up into the rankings at around No. 20 or so. The commitment of the Brockmeyer twins, a 2-for-1 package elevated the Crimson Tide class rapidly.
A year ago, Nick Saban was recruiting in an entirely new world as the coronavirus canceled camps and campus visits. This year, things are not quite back to 100 percent normalcy but they are closer than they were. Alabama has been able to have some amount of coach-to-prospect contact this summer. There are about as many photos on social media of prospects visiting Saban in his office as there are Kardashian snapshots. The return of camps has also brought back the Crimson Tide approach of spotting a prospect who may not currently be highly ranked, star-wise, and getting a swift commitment before other teams catch on.
Comparing recruiting classes in the summer is something of a futile exercise. Alabama can be patient because it can afford to be patient. That doesn’t necessarily mean that Alabama will have the No. 1 class yet again, with “greatest of all time” being bandied about. It’s just to illustrate that classes are only a snapshot in time. A year ago, Tennessee, which had promised virtually all of its 25 scholarships, was No. 2 nationally in some rankings but things fell apart.
Alabama will continue climbing up and settle in the same neighborhood it has always occupied, the top of the mountain community with Ohio State, Clemson, LSU and a couple of others. That’s not because Saban always does things the same way and gets the same results. It’s because he adapts.
So far, and we are very early in the process, there is no indication that the NIL revolution is keeping prospects close to home. Maybe by December, if the NIL remains more or less unregulated, you will see some of that. Saban and the other top coaches will still have the most resources and will have figured things out.
It will be interesting to hear how SEC coaches respond to questions about the “new landscape” (they will all be asked) at SEC Media Days next week. The answer might be different for South Carolina (which had a disastrous class in the wake of Will Muschamp’s firing and found itself wedged between North Texas and Tulane in the final rankings) than it is for Georgia.
Many may respond that the “free transfer” rules have more of an effect on building a roster than high school recruiting going forward. One could make the argument that for at least half the teams in the SEC, the top newcomer isn’t an incoming freshman at all but a transfer: Henry To’o To’o at Alabama, Arik Gilbert at Georgia, Wan’Dale Robinson at Kentucky and Demarkcus Bowman at Florida all come to mind immediately.
So it’s sort of a slow summer at Alabama, which is to be expected. But do not expect it to be extended.
Reach Cecil Hurt at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @cecilhurt