Tide, Tigers poised for top classes
Alabama has apparently become a destination state for blue chip recruits.
Alabama and Auburn, which have divvied up the past two national titles and Heisman Trophies, both are expected to land highly-ranked recruiting classes Wednesday on national signing day, when prospects start signing national letters of intent.
Just like last year when both landed consensus top-5 classes. Both apparently remain in the mix for some highly recruited high school players who will announce their college choices on Wednesday and could give their classes even more juice.
That group includes the nation's top-rated offensive lineman and five-star prospect Cyrus Kouandjio, who has both schools high on his list, according to recruiting services.
''Each team could have a couple of defections on the last day or maybe not get anybody at all, and still have top 5 or top 10 classes,'' said Keith Niebuhr, Southeast recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. ''They're both loaded. Everybody wants to talk about the five-star guys but both those classes are loaded with four-star guys. Five-star guys, that's more of a fanfare type thing but when you have double-digit four-stars you're putting together a heck of a class.
''At this point, it's the icing on the cake. Anything extra - what more do they need?''
Rivals had Alabama's class at the top of its national rankings as of Tuesday, while Auburn was sixth - dropping a spot after cornerback commitment Marcus Roberson of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., changed his mind.
Both teams offer opportunities for early playing time at some positions.
The Tigers have picked up momentum, and a number of nonbinding verbal commitments, since winning their first national title in 53 years on Jan. 10. They're seeking replacements for Heisman-winning quarterback Cam Newton and Lombardi Award winner Nick Fairley at defensive tackle, along with four departing offensive linemen, but also have a thinned-out linebacking corps and secondary.
The group is oriented heavily in those areas and includes four-star quarterback commitment Kiehl Frazier from Springdale, Ark.
Auburn also only has two scholarship tailbacks on the roster, Mike Dyer and Onterio McCalebb.
Alabama has lost underclassmen Mark Ingram (the 2009 Heisman winner), Julio Jones and Marcell Dareus.
Nick Saban's Crimson Tide also has a roster beefed-up with three straight highly rated recruiting classes, including the consensus No. 1 two years running before settling for a top 5 spot. The Tigers' Gene Chizik is trying to close out his second straight highly ranked haul.
The Tide's highest rated commitment is safety Hasean Clinton-Dix, but Alabama also is still in the running for five-star prospects in defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, running back Isaiah Crowell and Kouandjio. The nation's top recruit, Clowney is expected to wait until his Feb. 14 birthday to announce his decision.
''I feel for them to some degree because they could be sitting here at the end of signing day saying, 'We've got Jadoveon Clowney, we've got Isaiah Crowell, we've got Cyrus Kouandjio,'' ESPN recruiting analyst Tom Luginbill said. ''And they can also be sitting there at the end of the day saying, 'We missed out on all three.'
''They are neck and neck with three of the top uncommitted guys in the ESPNU 150, three of the top uncommitted guys in the country regardless of position.''
He said the class ''is still very, very strong'' even if none of the three choose Alabama.