Nick Saban, Alabama dominate with class of 2017


Nick Saban seemed to be holding a cup of espresso — although it was after 4 p.m. — when he stepped behind a College of Alabama podium on Feb. 1, 2017.

It was Nationwide Signing Day and Saban was about to debate a bunch of recruits that will show to be among the many biggest of all time — a part of two nationwide titles groups (and a 51-4 document) the previous 4 seasons.

Eleven of them have been chosen up to now three NFL drafts, together with a whopping eight within the first spherical and 6 within the high 15. And that’s simply to this point. As many as six extra may very well be redshirt-senior starters for the 2022 Crimson Tide that’s, once more, anticipated to be a nationwide title contender.

It’s an astounding recruiting haul, so astounding that Saban virtually seemed comfortable that day. Virtually.

“How’s all people?” Saban requested, though he didn’t actually await a solution from the various media. “Good. Good to see all people. We’re clearly very excited in regards to the 14 gamers who signed with us at the moment to affix the 12 gamers who’re already early enrolled right here. I believe this can be a class that we’re more than happy with and happy with.”

Alabama head football coach Nick Saban leads his team back onto the field for the second half against Arkansas at Bryant–Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, U.S. October 14, 2017. Picture taken October 14, 2017.  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

The NFL draft would possibly as nicely be a recruiting device for Nick Saban, pictured in 2017, and his Alabama juggernaut. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Watching Saban 4 years later it’s exhausting to know if he really knew what he had. The person just isn’t liable to emotion, particularly emotion over what hasn’t truly occurred but. “Rat poison,” he likes to name it. He virtually instantly targeted on the detrimental.

“I believe, on this class, we hit each spot however one,” Saban stated. “We wished to recruit one nook, possibly two. It didn’t occur that means for us.”

The subsequent yr he’d land Patrick Surtain II, so don’t shed any tears.

“We really feel like we obtained a few actually good safeties,” Saban stated. “Acquired 4 actually good linebackers, we’ve obtained three actually good down guys on protection, you realize, some offensive linemen, 4 which can be good, some actually good, expert large receivers, couple tight ends, couple good working backs, couple good quarterbacks, couple good specialists.”

That’s one option to describe the group.

These “actually good, expert” large receivers?

They embody Devonta Smith (2020 Heisman Trophy winner and 2021 first-round choice by Philadelphia), Jerry Jeudy (2020 first-round decide by Denver) and Henry Ruggs II (2020 first spherical decide by Las Vegas).

The “couple good” quarterbacks?

Tua Tagovailoa (2020 first-round decide by Miami) and Mac Jones (2021 first-round decide by New England).

How in regards to the “some” offensive linemen?

Alex Leatherwood, 2021 first-round decide to Las Vegas and Jedrick Wills, 2020 first-round decide to Cleveland.

“Alex Leatherwood has plenty of potential,” Saban stated. “Jedrick Wills, we thought was among the finest guys on the place in all the nation.”

Right and proper.

The category was ranked No. 1 within the nation by each service that compiles such a factor, however Saban greeted that distinction like he simply took a chew of a uncooked onion.

“I do not understand how we’re rated,” Saban stated. “I didn’t know the place these guys are rated or what number of stars they’ve.”

Effectively, they’d plenty of stars. Seven of them from the 2017 class have been 5-star recruits by Rivals.com, which doled out 34 such distinctions that yr. In NFL phrases, it’s like having seven first-round picks in a single yr.

“I do know everybody likes to go on the market and take a look at all these rankings and scores and all of that,” Saban stated. “It is similar to I inform gamers within the draft, ‘It’s not the place you get drafted. It is what you do along with your profession and the way you develop your profession.’ This isn’t how you bought rated out of highschool, it’s about being dedicated to doing the entire issues that we’ll do right here to achieve success as an individual, as a pupil and a participant.”

He added, “Recruiting, participant analysis, just isn’t an actual science.”

No, it isn’t. It certain was shut although for the Tide. A couple of transferred, primarily in quest of taking part in time. And never all of them will make the NFL, however plenty of them will, together with defensive finish Isaiah Buggs (Pittsburgh) and defensive again Xavier McKinney (New York Giants).

Even the workforce’s lengthy snapper, Thomas Fletcher, obtained drafted on Saturday by Carolina regardless of the actual fact lengthy snappers hardly ever get drafted.

On Signing Day, Saban wasn’t a lot for doling out particular person reward. When requested about his receivers, he stated Ruggs and Smith have been “very explosive guys. Very quick, very explosive.” Jeudy didn’t even advantage a point out.

Tagovailoa and Jones, in the meantime, entered a program the place Jalen Hurts (at the moment the starter in Philadelphia) was entrenched because the starter. As such, Saban didn’t point out both recruit by title. He famous that, “I believe it is crucial to develop depth at this place.”

“Depth” is one option to name two Heisman finalists who gained nationwide championship video games.

Concerning the closest Saban obtained to excited was when discussing Najee Harris, the working again out of Antioch, California, who was rated by Rivals.com because the No. 1 participant within the nation. On Thursday, he was taken twenty fourth total by Pittsburgh.

Not even he might undersell Najee.

“An excellent all-around participant,” Saban stated. “Among the finest gamers within the nation based on lots of people’s analysis. He is obtained nice dimension. He’s obtained nice pace. He’s very fluid and easy athletically. He’s very full. He has excellent arms; good route runner. Has particular manufacturing as a participant.”

The information convention took 20 minutes and far of it targeted on questions on how soccer has modified, his philosophy to in-state recruiting and his ideas on what makes his outdated pal, Invoice Belichick, an excellent coach (it was Tremendous Bowl week).

Total Saban stated he was happy with the category and hoped he might hold recruiting good gamers to Tuscaloosa.

“Hopefully these guys will be capable of contribute to the success of this system,” Saban stated. “ … So we will proceed to have success and future guys will acknowledge these successes and need to be part of this system.”

In February, he signed the No. 1 recruiting class … once more.

“As I all the time speak about,” he stated this February, “we’re probably not concerned with scores or rankings or something like that … ”

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