According to Nick Saban, Wednesday was a challenging time for Alabama football. Not because of immoderate Early National Signing Day play — Alabama didn’t person immoderate commitments defecting astatine nan eleventh hour. In truth nan Crimson Tide only added to their top-ranked class, pinch 3 caller commitments starring up to Saban’s signing time presser. But while nan unofficial nationalist recruiting vacation is astatine nan forefront of galore people’s minds, Alabama’s existent roster practiced connected Wednesday successful mentation for a playoff matchup pinch Michigan. Balancing those 2 elements, on pinch roster guidance and more, during this engaged portion of nan almanac is simply a increasing situation for a coaching unit . . . and astatine times moreover a constituent of frustration.
“We’re trying to get fresh for a game, and I cognize we gotta recruit,” Saban said. “We’re trying to recruit, and there’s a batch of stuff, a batch of guys successful nan portal, there’s still immoderate players retired location that we’re recruiting that we deliberation are outstanding players, truthful we’re continuing to effort to do nan champion occupation that we tin successful each respect from a coaching our players standpoint to trying to get value players to travel here.
“When we made an early signing time years ago, we said ‘this would go nan signing date.’ Well, it besides conscionable moved nan recruiting almanac up for illustration six months. Players sojourn successful nan summertime, that’s erstwhile astir guys visit. I mean we utilized to person tons of guys sojourn successful January, we’ll person very fewer visits successful January (this cycle). The full point is benignant of conscionable pushed forward.. There’s conscionable a batch of things happening correct now that return our clip and attraction and attention. Recruiting is important, nan crippled is important, our squad is important. We’re trying to negociate our clip nan champion we tin to do a bully occupation successful each those areas truthful that we tin finish.”
What to watch from Alabama successful nan early signing period: Who could subordinate Tide's class?
Still, Saban and Alabama handled nan situation of juggling College Football Playoff prep and finishing disconnected a star-studded people (undoubtedly a bully problem to have) pinch nan comparative easiness this program’s go known for — Alabama officially signed 23 prospects (of 26 commits — a fewer players person yet to sign) and presently clasp nan No. 2 people ranking according to nan 247Sports composite.
According to that composite ranking, location person only been 2 instances since 2010 erstwhile Alabama hasn’t had a Top 3 people (2010 — fourth, 2018 — fifth). On Monday of this week Alabama classed 4th nationally pinch 21 commits, but quickly ascended complete nan people of nan succeeding 48 hours. Since nan opening of nan week, nan Crimson Tide person added transportation portal protect linemen LT Overton, 2 uncommitted four-stars successful EDGE Jayshawn Ross and DL Steve Mboumoua, on pinch 2 flipped four-star prospects: Aeryn Hampton (athlete, Texas) and Kevin Riley (running back, Miami). But wait, there’s (maybe) more, arsenic a fewer much targets remain.
An unsuccessful flip effort of five-star DL Eddrick Houston (Ohio State) is nan only antagonistic successful an different ascendant decorativeness successful nan 2024 cycle. Alabama, arsenic we’ve seen virtually each year, has a batch of momentum connected nan section to spell on pinch nan recruiting way this December. But while it’s ever important to decorativeness strong, what’s arsenic awesome is that astir 80 percent of nan people was committed earlier nan play moreover began. Alabama’s coaches maintained those relationships while they kept pursuing different targets, and those coordinated efforts resulted successful nan ascendant early signing day.
In an expanded SEC section that presently makes up 13 of nan Top 25 teams nationally, Alabama — who has had nan first aliases 2nd classed people successful each of nan past 5 years — continues to lead successful nan talent arms race.
The Tide aren’t done yet — who are nan remaining targets?
The only committed precocious schoolhouse prospects that haven’t signed are five-star wide receiver Ryan Williams and three-star Quinton Reese. Both will motion their letters of intent successful February. Elsewhere, there’s a fewer uncommitted players of statement (at least, uncommitted astatine nan clip of this article): three-star violative lineman Edwin Favour, four-star moving backmost Daniel Hill and four-star protect backmost Zay Mincey. Favour will denote and motion during nan early model (Wednesday to Friday) while Hill and Mincey will motion privately and denote their decisions publically astatine nan All-American Bowl connected Jan. 6.
Alabama vanished strongest on nan protect front, adding Overton, Mboumoua and Ross this week. Next year’s protect statement group looks solid, featuring Tim Keenan III, Jaheim Oatis, Jah-Marien Latham, Damon Payne Jr and James Smith, among others. Add successful nan 3 caller pieces and it creates a bully operation of seasoned acquisition and young talent. Outside linebacker is still inexperienced, and Alabama peeking into nan portal for proven talent, whether now aliases during nan outpouring window, is connected nan table.
One area wherever Alabama will decidedly look to bolster nan roster is connected nan violative line, peculiarly nan interior. The 2024 people has 3 signees: four-star Casey Poe and three-stars Josepth Ionata and William Sanders (all of whom are connected field now) but nan unit will look to nan portal for further help.
“We deliberation they person a batch of potential,” Saban said. “That’s a developmental position. Those are guys that we deliberation person a batch of ability. We cognize a batch astir them. I still deliberation we’re benignant of retired location successful nan marketplace looking for immoderate much of those kinds of guys, violative linemen. Just from a numbers standpoint and from a quality, acquisition standpoint truthful we’re excited to person them and we’re still retired location looking to effort to adhd immoderate group astatine that position.”
In nan midst of Playoff prep, early enrollees are already acclimating
Saban estimates that by January location will beryllium 19 mid-year enrollees, and location are 13 practicing pinch nan squad up until nan Rose Bowl and beyond, if Alabama advances successful nan CFP. On offense, it’s backmost Julian Sayin, tight extremity Caleb Odom and violative linemen Casey Poe, Joseph Ionata and William Sanders. On defense, it’s linemen Jeremiah Beaman and Isaia Faga, linebacker Sterling Dixon (who will not beryllium participating owed to injury) and protect backs Zabien Brown, Jameer Grimsley, Dre Kirkpatrick Jr, Rydarrius Morgan and Peyton Woodyard.
There’s a mandated accommodation play for early enrollees, meaning they person to beryllium successful shorts for a play of time, followed by helmets and enarthrosis pads earlier advancing to afloat pads. No subordinate practiced successful afloat pads arsenic of Wednesday. But nan wide acquisition is invaluable and sets players up connected a developmental accelerated track, particularly arsenic they’re being thrust into a business wherever their squad is playing for a nationalist championship.
“I conscionable deliberation nan full acquisition of being successful meetings,” Saban said. “Learning nan agelong program, learning nan weight training program, being successful meetings and starting to study nan discourtesy aliases defense, being astir nan players connected nan field, seeing really a assemblage believe really goes and really they tin lend and really they tin improve.
A batch of them travel up and meet pinch nan coaches truthful that they study a small other if they don’t understand thing successful a gathering truthful I deliberation this full acquisition is simply a really affirmative point for them successful position of their accommodation to really they’re going to modulation into, schoolhouse successful January and that full process that we spell done successful spring.”
The prima of Alabama’s 2024 class, backmost Julian Sayin, is 1 of nan 13 early enrollees getting reps successful nan lead to nan CFP. (Photo: Manny Navarro, The Athletic)
Saban — and Jalen Milroe — praise Julian Sayin
On Tuesday, starting backmost Jalen Milroe praised Sayin’s limb talent, saying he “spins nan shot really well” and noted he’s been a welcomed addition. In Saban’s first opportunity to speak connected Sayin publicly, he echoed a akin sentiment and talked astir his first fewer days connected campus.
Sayin joins Milroe, Ty Simpson, Dylan Longergan, Eli Holsteina and Tyler Buchner, who publically announced his intended transfer backmost to Notre Dame to play lacrosse connected Wednesday. There’s nary shortage of arms during CFP preparation.
“Julian is an outstanding player,” Saban said. “The shot comes retired of his manus really nice, he’s accurate, he’s smart. He’s had a awesome precocious schoolhouse profession and been 1 of nan champion and astir productive players successful nan state connected a very accordant ground and we for illustration him a lot. I deliberation arsenic each players, I show each players you really sewage to attraction connected your development. That’s nan astir important thing: What are you going to become? And I deliberation he’s sewage nan correct mindset to do that.”
(Top photo: Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images)