National recruiting: Alabama has strong finish for No. 1 class
Signing Day went much like this past season: Alabama dominated.
For a sixth consecutive year, Alabama landed the nation’s top signing class according to composite rankings of recruiting websites compiled by 247Sports. The reigning national champions soared to the top of the standings thanks to Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban’s customary strong finish.
“Saban isn’t even recruiting anymore — he’s selecting,” said Barton Simmons, the national scouting director for 247Sports.
Alabama entered Wednesday ranked behind LSU and Mississippi within its own conference in the 247Sports Composite standings, but the Crimson Tide closed with a flurry that featured the addition of five-star linebackers Ben Davis and Lyndell Wilson as well as top-100 defensive end Terrell Hall.
“Nick Saban is working on a whole different plane that everybody else in the country,” Simmons said. “It’s not even about recruiting anymore. It’s about figuring out a way to make the numbers work to get the guys you want. That’s become the challenge for Saban.”
Signing Day decisions
Seven of the top 15 players in the 247Sports Composite were uncommitted heading into Signing Day. Top-15 prospects making their announcements Wednesday included the Alabama duo of Davis and Wilson plus defensive tackle Derrick Brown (Auburn), linebacker Mique Juarez (UCLA) and athlete Mecole Hardman Jr. (Georgia). Wide receiver Demetris Robertson of Savannah, Georgia, still hasn’t announced his college choice and has said he planned to wait a couple of extra days. He’s the guy whose home received a visit from Notre Dame’s equipment truck last week as the Fighting Irish pursued him.
Big Texas surge
No school made as much of a late run as Texas. The Longhorns moved from the 30s into the top 10 in the team standings of multiple services. “We’re talking about nine commits in 24 hours — and seven on National Signing Day,” Simmons said. “This is the way I think Charlie Strong had to close, and he really knocked it out of the park with the effort they put together on signing day.” The list of top-100 recruits to pick Texas on Wednesday included safety Brandon Jones and outside linebackers Erick Fowler and Jeffrey McCulloch. Texas got Fowler to switch from LSU and defensive tackle Jordan Elliott to flip from Michigan.
Hurt repeatedly this past season by big plays, the Irish tried to shore up their secondary by signing seven defensive backs among the 24 recruits added to the roster.
The highest-rated defensive backs to sign were cornerback Troy Pride Jr. and safety Donte Vaughn. The Irish also signed three linebackers to help fill the void left by the losses of Joe Schmidt and Jaylon Smith, and three receivers to help replace Will Fuller, Chris Brown and Amir Carlisle.
The top junior college recruit in the country picked Tennessee. Jonathan Kongbo, a defensive end who played for Arizona Western College, chose the Volunteers over USC and Florida State.
Kongbo committed to Tennessee last year, then de-committed earlier this year before ultimately signing with the Vols.