While the names and dates were different, National Signing Day (NSD) 2012 ended just like four out of the last five NSDs, with the Alabama Crimson Tide sitting atop the college football recruiting world with the consensus No. 1 class. In fact, many analysts agree that this class has the potential to be the best one of all from top to bottom. Head coach Nick Saban and his staff has seemingly made it a habit to produce classes that keep Alabama at the top of college football. While Alabama fans are still reveling in the school’s 14th national championship,Alabama’s coach has been hitting the recruiting trail hard to keep the proverbial cupboards lined with four and five-star talent.
While Alabama’s signing day only had a few surprises, the one’s it did have were, for the most part, positive. Four-star defensive linemen Korren Kirven and Dalvin Tomlinson both faxed in national Letters of Intent (LOI) with the Tide on Wednesday. While most experts expected Tomlinson to sign with the Tide, especially after canceling a visit to in-state Georgia last week, Kirven’s signing caught a few people by surprise. Kirven is considered the No. 2 player in the state of Virginia, and therefore was thought to be a must-get for Virginia Tech. Kirven announced his intentions in front of a large audience in his high school gym by saying a quiet, yet emphatic Roll Tide in to the microphone. He received a rousing ovation after making his announcement, and was greeted with chants of Roll Tide in the background.
While Alabama’s class was very impressive overall, it did endure two casualties. Atlanta area running back Justin Taylor and Vigor defensive lineman Darius Philon, both long-term Bama commitments, chose to sign with other SEC schools after being asked by the Alabama coaching staff to grayshirt and enroll next January. Both Taylor, who signed with Kentucky, and Jones, who signed with Arkansas, suffered knee injuries in their senior seasons, and the Alabama staff felt they needed another year of rehab. The new 25 player cap on recruiting classes also did not help, as the coaches were struggling to find scholarships for everyone.
Perhaps the biggest news of the day was a lack of a surprise involving five-star commitment Landon Collins. The Geismer, Louisiana native, who is rated as the No. 1 safety in the nation, waited until mid-afternoon to send his LOI in to the recruiting war room fax machine. He was the last official signee of the class. Collins, of course, became famous when his mother vocally and visually expressed her dissatisfaction with Collins’ choice of Alabama over home-town favorite LSU during his press-conference at the Under Armour All-America Game this year. While many analysts thought Collins might flip to the Tigers to please his mother, in the end he chose to follow his heart and go with the Tide, where he said he had felt like he belonged ever since his junior year.
Coach Nick Saban seemed to be very pleased when asked about this class and what they bring to the table. He had been saying all along leading up to NSD that Bama’s focus was on filling depth at several key positions. The Tide seems to have done just that.
"I think we filled some needs with this class. We started out with a goal of explosive players on offense, running back, receiver, those kinds of guys. We felt good about the guys we were able to attract from that standpoint," Saban said. "We're obviously losing a lot of very, very good defensive players. Even though we have some good defensive players here, we felt it was really important to have a really good year on the defensive side of the ball. We feel good about the five defensive linemen, five linebackers, four (defensive backs) we were able to attract in this class. And we feel like we got a great specialist and kicker that we got this year, and how he can contribute in the future. It's very, very positive."
And just so everyone knows that they read that right, yes, Alabama also signed the nation’s No. 1 kicker this year. Kicker Adam Griffith is expected to come in and immediately compete for playing time on Alabama’s somewhat tumultuous kickoff and field goal units. The Georgia native had a season long field goal of 52 yards this season, and kicked a 32 yarder in overtime to lead his Calhoun High School team to the Class AA state title this season. But, perhaps even more impressive, he had touchbacks on 43 of his 56 kickoffs this season.
While recruiting rankings don’t mean much in the grand scheme of things, this year’s class should make most Alabama fans very happy, as it is very obvious that this coaching staff is continuing to look toward the future. And, just in case anyone doubts that, just ask ESPN reporter Wendi Nix, who spent the day in Tuscaloosa with the Alabama coaching staff. She reported multiple times throughout the day that coach Saban was on the phone with several key recruits. However, they weren’t recruits for the class of 2012. They were instead recruits being courted by the Tide for the class of 2013.
Below is an alphabetical list of all of Alabama’s Signees (* indicates January enrollee)
RYAN ANDERSON* LB, 6-2, 250, Daphne, Ala.
DAKOTA BALL DL, 6-2, 295, Lindale, Ga.
CHRIS BLACK* WR, 5-11, 180, Jacksonville, Fla.
DEION BELUE* DB, 5-11, 150, Tuscambia, Ala. (JUCO)
LANDON COLLINS DB, 6-0, 202, Geismer, La.
AMARI COOPER* WR, 6-1, 185, Miami, Fla.
DENZELL DEVALL LB, 6-2, 243, Bastrop, La.
TRAVELL DIXON* DB, 6-1, 195, Miami, Fla. (JUCO)
KENYAN DRAKE RB, 6-1, 204, Powder Springs, Ga.
KURT FREITAG TE, 6-4, 240, Buford, Ga.
BRANDON GREENE OL, 6-5, 292, Ellenwood, Ga.
ADAM GRIFFITH K, 5-10, 174, Calhoun, Ga.
CALEB GULLEDGE OL, 6-4, 280, Prattville, Ala.
TYLER HAYES LB, 6-2, 210, Thomasville, Ala.
BRANDON HILL OL, 6-6, 350, Collierville, Tenn.
CYRUS JONES ATH, 5-10, 192, Baltimore, Md.
KORREN KIRVEN DL, 6-5, 292, Lynchburg, Va.
DARREN LAKE DL, 6-3, 315, York, Ala.
DILLON LEE* LB, 6-4, 240, Buford, Ga.
ALEC MORRIS QB, 6-3, 225, Allen, Texas
REGGIE RAGLAND LB, 6-2, 247, Madison, Ala.
GENO SMITH DB, 6-0, 182, Atlanta, Ga.
ALPHONSE TAYLOR* DL, 6-5, 340, Mobile, Ala.
DALVIN TOMLINSON DL, 6-2, 266, McDonough, Ga.
EDDIE WILLIAMS WR, 6-3, 204, Panama City, Fla.
T.J. YELDON* RB, 6-2, 210, Daphne, Ala.