The Rich Get Richer
By Matt Smith
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Fresh off of a second national championship in three seasons, the Alabama Crimson Tide continued their run of excellence by reeling in yet another top five class.
Sometimes, it just doesn’t seem fair.
On the heels of a 21-0 victory over LSU in the BCS Championship Game, Nick Saban and Alabama have ensured that if they don’t win a 15th and 16th national championship in the next few years, it won’t be due to a lack of talent.
The Crimson Tide will welcome 26 new members to its team next season, eight of those who are already enrolled in Tuscaloosa for the spring semester. Whether NSD, the acronym for National Signing Day, truly stands for Nick Saban Day is a legitimate debate.
The class is highlighted by two recruits who seemingly were headed to Alabama’s two biggest rivals – Auburn and LSU – but later signed with the Crimson Tide. Daphne, Ala. running back T.J. Yeldon, an Auburn commitment, flipped his commitment to Alabama last month and is already in school.
Safety Landon Collins, the only five-star recruit in Louisiana in the 2012 class according to Rivals.com, was expected to do what all the five-star players in the 2011 class did – sign with LSU. However, Collins angered his home state (and his mother) when he announced during the Under Armour All-America Game that he would sign with the Crimson Tide.
Alabama lacked a big-play threat in the passing game last season after Julio Jones turned pro, but they’ll bring in a dynamic athlete in Panama City, Fla.’s Eddie Williams. Williams is not as polished entering college as Jones was, but his 6’4” frame should quickly give the Tide a new element to its offense that it was missing a year ago. Fellow receivers Chris Black and Amari Cooper are on campus for the spring and should provide instant impact.
Only seven of the 26 signees hail from Alabama, signifying a continued shift in focus after 14 of the team’s 22 starters in the BCS Championship Game were in-state recruits. Many of those came from Saban’s first full class at Alabama in 2008.
Other notable signees include Reggie Ragland, a 6’4” 245-pound linebacker from Madison, Ala., and Atlanta cornerback Geno Smith. Ragland’s size should allow him to eventually step into the pass-rushing role at which former Tide linebacker Courtney Upshaw excelled, although he’s strong enough to play inside as well. Smith should see the field early and often with the team losing both of its starting cornerbacks.
Alabama did miss out on Hueytown, Ala. quarterback Jameis Winston, who is expected to either leave the state and play for Florida State or play professional baseball. The Tide did sign Alec Morris, a four-star quarterback from Allen, Tex.
Success in February doesn’t always equal success in the fall, but Saban won’t be mistaken for Ron Zook anytime soon. One of the most common compliments given to a coach is that he “does more with less”, meaning his teams overcome a lack of talent with great coaching. Saban again has ensured that that is one compliment he will never hear.