February 6, 2008

Alabama wins recruiting national title

The Tide came rolling in on National Signing Day.

After an impressive flurry of commitments in the past 48 hours, and thanks to a solid recruiting foundation that was laid in the spring and summer, Alabama has been crowned by Rivals.com as the recruiting national champions for the class of 2008.

The Crimson Tide finished with an amazing run in Nick Saban's second recruiting class in Tuscaloosa. Saban and his staff landed three five-star players and 18 four-star recruits, giving them enough of a push to edge Notre Dame and SEC rival Florida.

As of 3 p.m. EST, the Tide was sitting with 2,819 points, just ahead of Notre Dame, Florida, Oklahoma and Georgia. The rest of the Rivals.com top 10 consisted of Miami at No. 6, Florida State at No. 7, Ohio State at No. 8, Michigan at No. 9 and USC at No. 10.

There are several uncommitted players who could cause some shifts in the top-10, but nobody has enough left on the board to knock the Tide from their perch.

Alabama's class got started in February 2007 when four-star defensive end Michael Williams jumped on board. But things really got hot in March when the Tide added commitments from Jermaine Preyear, Brandon Lewis, Undra Billingsley and Ivan Matchett. Lewis, another four-star player, turned down offers from Clemson, Georgia Tech, Iowa State, Ole Miss, Tennessee and others to commit to defensive coordinator Kevin Steele.

The Tide went on to add seven more commitments in the spring and summer, including five-star athlete Burton Scott of Prichard (Ala.) Vigor. Linebacker coach Lance Thompson, a serious candidate for Rivals.com national recruiter of the year, reeled in Scott. The 5-foot-11, 194-pound prospect went on official visits to Auburn, Florida and Miami, but he never wavered on his commitment.

THE TOP 10
The top 10 recruiting classes in the nation:
1. Alabama
3. Florida
4. Miami
6. Georgia
7. USC
10. Michigan
"He just loved Coach Saban and the whole staff," Vigor coach Kerry Stephenson told BamaOnLine.com. "He liked what they said about using him on offense. I can tell you this: They are getting a great player with the sky as the limit for how good he can be."

Scott's commitment capped an impressive summer run that included another five-star prospect in offensive tackle Tyler Love of Mountain Brook, Ala. Love committed to the Tide on July 27 over offers from Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Oklahoma, Tennessee and others.

The Tide then got its quarterback of the future on Sept. 4 when EA Sports Elite 11 quarterback Star Jackson of Lake Worth, Fla., committed. Jackson went on to impress at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and is the No. 5 pro-style quarterback in the nation.

"Alabama had been recruiting me harder than anyone, and they were there before I started to get all these offers," Jackson said when he committed. "They've been there the whole time and showed a lot of faith in me early by offering me. It really stood out to me when they sent three coaches to watch me in May, including Nick Saban."

During the season, the Tide added four-star defensive tackle Kerry Murphy, four-star safety Robert Lester, Rivals100 offensive lineman Barrett Jones, four-star linebacker Don'ta Hightower and three-star defensive tackle Terrence Cody.

Additional commitments from solid prospects such as Robby Green and Chris Jordan helped set the stage for the bigger fireworks in the days leading up to National Signing Day.

Four-star defensive end Glenn Harbin jumped on board Jan. 31, followed by a major pledge from Alonzo Lawrence, the nation's No. 2 cornerback. Lawrence, a 6-foot-1, 187-pounder, selected the Tide over Auburn, Florida State, LSU, Miami, Ole Miss and Mississippi State.

BIG FINISH
The Crimson Tide added three key recruits on National Signing Day:
PlayerRank
Julio Jones, WRNo. 4 overall
Jerrell Harris, LBNo. 34 overall
Marcel Dareus, DTNo. 28 DT
"I committed to the University of Alabama, because of my relationship with the coaches and the players," Lawrence said. "They started recruiting me very early on and stuck with me throughout this process. When compared to other schools I was considering, the facilities, the coaching staff and the chance to win a national championship was too much to pass up.

"I'm excited about getting started and getting to Tuscaloosa to help this class achieve its ultimate goal, which is to win a national championship."

The Tide continued to roll. Wednesday morning, the nation's No. 1 receiver, Julio Jones of Foley, Ala., signed with Alabama. Jones, the No. 4 player overall, was one of the most talked-about recruits in state history. Keeping him at home was huge for the Tide.

"In the end I went with the choice that I felt most comfortable with, the one that felt like home, and that was Alabama," Jones said. "I took a lot of visits up there, and that's where I felt the best.

"I looked at their facilities, the campus and academics, and it was as good as it got, so that was good enough for me. I felt good with the coaches. They told me they were going to move me around and use me in different sets. I think I'll fit in fine."

The title was secured when Alabama received a commitment from four-star linebacker Jerrell Harris of Gadsden (Ala.) Garden City. Harris was ranked as the No. 38 player in the country by Rivals.com.




 

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