By Andrew Bone | Editor

Alabama’s football dynasty under Nick Saban has been built on recruiting, with the Crimson Tide landing a series of No. 1-ranked signing classes. Here is a look at the top 10 recruiting battles Alabama has won since Saban’s arrival a decade ago. Not all became all-time greats, but they were important recruiting wins when they chose Alabama:

1. Julio Jones

Recruiting Class: 2008

Ranking: Five-star, No. 1 wide receiver and No. 4 overall player

Chose Alabama over: Oklahoma, Florida, Florida State, Texas Tech

Why it mattered: Saban’s first full year on the recruiting trail would not have been considered a success for those who lived in Alabama if he did not sign the No. 1 player, Julio Jones. Alabama had been missing a dominant player at the position. Landing Jones set a tone by getting the best players to start believing in the program. Jones kept people guessing until he announced his decision on National Signing Day.

2. Derrick Henry

Recruiting Class: 2013

Ranking: Rivals100, No. 5 running back and No. 36 overall

Chose Alabama over: Georgia, Tennessee

Why it mattered: Before becoming Alabama’s all-time leader in career and single-season rushing yards, Henry originally committed to Georgia. He flipped to Alabama and won the school’s second Heisman Trophy after rushing for 2,219 yards and 28 touchdowns his junior season, both SEC records. He also won the Doak Walker Award, Walter Camp Award and Maxwell Award. He helped guide Alabama to the 2015 national championship.

3. Reuben Foster

Recruiting Class: 2013

Ranking: Five-Star, No. 1 linebacker and No. 13 overall player

Chose Alabama over: Auburn

Why it mattered: Foster grew up an Alabama fan and committed early. He flipped to Auburn in the summer before his senior season. He decommitted from Auburn and committed back to Alabama after AU coach Gene Chizik was fired. Foster was a heat-seeking missile on special teams his first two years before becoming an impact player as a junior. He is arguably Saban’s most talented linebacker at UA, winning the Butkus Award, given to the nation’s best player at the position.

4. Landon Collins

Recruiting Class: 2012

Ranking: Five-star, No. 2 safety and No. 17 overall player

Chose Alabama over: LSU

Why it mattered: Alabama recruited aggressively in Louisiana when Saban first arrived in Tuscaloosa. Collins announced his commitment at the Under Armour All-America game despite his mother’s memorable dissatisfaction of his choice. Alabama has gone on to have plenty of success recruiting that state’s elite prospects. Collins was an All-American and was selected in the second round of the NFL draft.

5. Trent Richardson

Recruiting Class: 2009

Ranking: Five-star, No. 2 running back and No. 6 overall

Chose Alabama over: Florida, LSU

Why it mattered: Richardson gave an early commitment to Alabama. He quickly established himself as one of the best running back prospects in the country. He played at Escambia High School in Pensacola, Fla., home of former Florida and NFL star Emmitt Smith. Richardson gave Alabama a scare in the end with the possibility of flipping to LSU, but stuck with his commitment. Richardson had a tremendous career in Tuscaloosa, playing on two national championship teams and winning the Doak Walker Award.

6. Rashaan Evans

Recruiting Class: 2014

Ranking: Five-star, No. 1 outside linebacker and No. 14 overall

Chose Alabama over: Auburn, UCLA, Georgia

Why it mattered: Surely Alabama could not go into Auburn for the second consecutive year and steal one of the best linebackers in the country, especially one who was also an Auburn legacy. Evans shocked the country on signing day by announcing his commitment to Alabama.

7. Amari Cooper

Recruiting Class: 2012

Ranking: Rivals100, No. 6 wide receiver and No. 45 overall

Chose Alabama over: Miami, Florida State

Why it mattered: Alabama finally broke into south Florida to land one of the nation’s best recruits. UA was able to snag five-star wideout Calvin Ridley a few years later, with Cooper paving the way. He won a pair of national championships, was a Heisman Trophy finalist and won the Biletnikoff Award in 2014.

8. Jonathan Allen

Recruiting Class: 2013

Ranking: Five-star, No. 2 defensive end and No. 11 overall

Chose Alabama over: Florida, Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State and Virginia Tech

Why it mattered: Allen wanted to play in the SEC and Florida was a serious contender prior to his commitment to Alabama. Allen helped establish Alabama as a recruiting power in the Washington, D.C./Maryland/Virginia corridor. Arguably the best defensive lineman in the Saban erahe won the Bronko Nagurski and Chuck Badnarik Awards as a senior and was also awarded the SEC Defensive Player of the Year by The Associated Press and SEC coaches.

9. T.J. Yeldon

Recruiting Class: 2012

Ranking: Five-star, No. 2 running back and No. 12 overall

Chose Alabama over: Auburn

Why it mattered: Recruiting flips were not as common five or six years ago as they are today. Yeldon continued to say he was 100 percent with his commitment to Auburn, but on Sunday right prior to the dead period in mid-December he released a statement saying he would sign with Alabama. A lot of people were anticipating a flip, but it was a monumental one for Alabama taking one of the best overall players in the country away from the in-state rival.

10. Cyrus Kouandjio

Recruiting Class: 2011

Ranking: Five-star, No. 1 offensive tackle and No. 4 overall

Chose Alabama over: Auburn

Why it mattered: Alabama coaches and fans will have a hard time forgetting when Kouandjio announced his commitment to Auburn on signing day on ESPN, a shocking moment considering his older brother, Arie, had signed with Alabama in 2010. Kouandjio was considered a lock to Alabama from the start of his recruitment. His family discussed his future over the next few days, and Kouandjio signed with Alabama and became an All-American.

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