Bama polishes off top class with key pickups
Alabama coach Nick Saban insists he doesn’t get swept up in the
signing day drama of recruits’ televised announcements and
last-minute change of hearts.
”But I must admit I didn’t sleep real good last night,” Saban
Everything turned out just fine for the Crimson Tide on
Wednesday when the program that has won three of the last four
national championships wrapped up a 25-player recruiting class that
was a consensus No. 1 in the country.
The Tide’s 25-player class that includes seven players already
enrolled featured a focus on runners, defensive backs and pass
rushers to help better defend spread offenses.
Five-star defensive linemen A’Shawn Robinson and Jonathan Allen,
who could play defensive end or outside linebacker, were among six
players who were rated as a five-star prospect by at least one
Allen was rated as the No. 11 player nationally by 247Sports,
while Scout.com ranked Robinson as the nation’s No. 1 defensive
tackle and the fifth-best player in the nation at any position
It’s no coincidence that Alabama’s only loss last season came
against Texas A&M’s spread offense.
”I think we added fast-twitch pass-rushing athletic guys to the
defensive line category as being a higher priority because of more
spread offenses, more athletic quarterbacks,” Saban said. ”The
same things that NFL teams are talking about when they play against
RGIII or (Colin) Kaepernick or the guy from Seattle (Russell
Wilson) who are athletic and run the ball. We have to be able to
adapt to that level of athleticism, and that means we have to be
more athletic to do that.”
Alabama didn’t lose any commitments on signing day and got
afternoon pledges from Robinson, a former Texas pledge, four-star
defensive tackle Dee Liner and four-star running back Alvin
The Tide landed four running backs and three players apiece on
the defensive and offensive lines and at linebacker and secondary.
There were few Wednesday surprises, though safety Antonio Conner
chose to sign with Mississippi.
”We only have so many spots to get them, so we feel really good
about the guys that we were able to attract here,” Saban said.
”It tells you sort of the reality of recruiting that things will
happen this way. You can’t get every player. It’s not going to
He won’t get any sympathy from his coaching peers with another
Offensively, Alabama added one of the nation’s top wide
receivers, Robert Foster, and tailbacks in Derrick Henry, who is
Henry is a Florida running back who was named national player of
the year by the Maxwell Football Club and Parade magazine. He broke
Ken Hall’s 51-year-old national high school rushing record with
12,124 yards after gaining 4,261 yards as a senior.
Tailback Eddie Lacy is skipping his senior season to enter the
NFL draft, leaving T.J. Yeldon to take the frontman status in the
backfield behind quarterback AJ McCarron. Dee Hart and Jalston
Fowler are returning from injuries while Kenyan Drake got some
experience as a freshman.
Saban took issue with the contention that Alabama has such a
”To have really good depth at running back you need five really
good players, and three guys usually play a lot,” he said. ”I
know in your little fantasy world that you put these guys’ names
down but there are circumstances. I think several of the guys that
we recruited are going to have lots of opportunities to contribute
Foster, who is from Monaca, Pa., was a five-star prospect by
Scout.com and 247Sports, which rated him the nation’s top
Tight end O.J. Howard was the No. 7 overall prospect by
Rivals.com out of Prattville, Ala. Like Henry and quarterback
Cooper Bateman, he’s already in school.
Auburn High School linebacker Reuben Foster signed two days
after committing to Alabama. He has a tattoo of Auburn’s logo on
his right forearm but added the name of cousin Ladarious Phillips
above it. Phillips, a former Auburn player, was killed in a
shooting last June.
Foster took to Twitter Wednesday to apologize for acting like
”the brat I was” at times.
”He really felt bad in some ways by the way he handled his
recruiting,” Saban said. ”I also think that all the media
attention sometimes can affect these guys in maybe not the most
positive way. At the same time, I think that Reuben would like to
please everyone. I think he learned in this process that that’s
very, very difficult and probably impossible to do. That’s probably
what he feels bad about.
”But that he does like to please you is probably one of the
reasons that he is a very good competitor.”
Bateman, who’s from Utah, showed the range of Alabama’s
”It says a lot about Alabama that a guy from Utah is willing to
come this far because he fell in love with it that much,” he