Bama Lands Top Recruiting Class in the Nation Once Again
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) – With a number of five-star prospects already on campus, Alabama still managed to polish off the nation’s top recruiting class with a flourish.
Five-star defensive end LaBryan Ray and four-star wide receiver Henry Ruggs III – both in-state recruits – and Louisiana receiver Devonta Smith announced Wednesday that they would play for the Crimson Tide. A quintet of five-star prospects are mid-year enrollees, and Ray’s signing gives Alabama the No. 1 prospect from five states, according to the 247 Sports composite rankings. The group also included five-star QB Tua Tagovailoa.
It was Alabama’s seventh straight No. 1 class in the composite rankings as of Wednesday evening.
Alabama coach Nick Saban said recruiting ratings, like where players are drafted, matter less than production and the staff’s own evaluation.
“I don’t know how we’re rated,” Saban said. “I didn’t know these guys, where they were rated, how many stars they have. I don’t know anything about that. We kind of evaluate the players like we’re going to draft them and take the guys that meet the criteria, the critical factors that we want at positions.”
The 12 early enrollees are the most under Saban, one more than the 2010 group. A dozen were also named five-star prospects by at least one major recruiting service.
Other things to know:
Top 25 Class: Yes.
Best in class: Najee Harris, RB, Antioch, California is the No. 3 overall prospect nationally according to the composite rankings. Saban said he’s a complete back who has size, speed, hands and runs solid routes.
Best of the rest: Tagovailoa, QB, Honolulu, Hawaii; Alex Leatherwood, OT, Pensacola, Florida; WR Jerry Jeudy, Deerfield Beach, Florida; OLB Dylan Moses, Bradenton, Florida; Ray, Madison, Alabama. All play positions where Alabama at least needed to add depth for next season. Jeudy and Ruggs highlight a four-receiver group. “These explosive type players are guys that we felt like we needed to add to this class,” Saban said.
Late additions: Ray; Ruggs, Montgomery, Alabama; DL Phidarian Mathis, Monroe, Louisiana.
Ones that got away: DT Aubrey Solomon chose Michigan. S Todd Harris opted for LSU. Alabama didn’t sign a cornerback.
How they’ll fit in: Tagovailoa appears to have a shot at competing with Hurts for the job and certainly at least the No. 2 spot. Hurts was the Southeastern Conference offensive player of the year as a freshman but struggled in passing down the stretch. All three of Hurts’ backups transferred during or after the season, and Alabama also signed four-star QB Mac Jones, who’s expected to enroll in February. Harris joins a loaded backfield led by late-season star Bo Scarbrough and 1,000-yard rusher Damien Harris. There are certainly players who could challenge to replace early NFL departures receiver ArDarius Stewart and offensive tackle Cam Robinson.
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