With most of the National Letters of Intent signed and sent, National Signing Day has been wrapped up, and now it’s time to grade Alabama football’s recruiting class for 2017.
We’ve come to expect it. It’s the way things are. Alabama ended up with the No. 1-ranked class in the 2017 recruiting cycle, and we should have seen it coming. The sky is blue. Grass is green. Nick Saban gets who he wants on the recruiting trail.
The Crimson Tide, obviously, topped the SEC recruiting class rankings with blue-chip additions to multiple position groups. And a lot of the credit goes to the staff Saban has assembled, as Tosh Lupoi has quickly become an elite recruiter.
With that said, let’s take a look at the entire Alabama Crimson Tide recruiting class from 2017, and hand out a few grades.
Yes, we know. Jalen Hurts absolutely wrecked college football this past season a true freshman. And, yes, we know he should only improve from here on out. But the Crimson Tide watched every other quarterback on the roster transfer away, and needed to address the position. They did that with Tua Tagovailoa and Mac Jones. The former will get all the hype as the 5-star talent, and he deserves it, but Jones can ball. Tagovailoa will likely start out ahead of Jones on the depth chart, but don’t quit on the Jacksonville native. He can dissect defenses from the pocket.
Running Back: A+
If Alabama keeps taking all of the top-ranked running backs, there won’t be enough to go around for the other 127 FBS programs. Seriously, though, Tosh Lupoi knocked it out of the park by using his Pac-12 roots to land Najee Harris. Anytime you get the No. 1 player in the country, that deserves an A-grade. But the Tide also landed 4-star tailback Brian Robinson for good measure.
Wide Receiver: A+
On National Signing Day, the Crimson Tide found a way to hold onto both 5-star wide receiver DeVonta Smith and 4-star wide receiver Henry Ruggs III. That’s huge because they stuck with Nick Saban’s staff despite the fact wide receivers coach Billy Napier left to become the offensive coordinator at Arizona State. When you factor in 6-foot-6, 202-pound Tyrell Shavers and fellow 4-star recruit Jerry Jeudy, this wide receiving group will be elite. Plus, Jeudy is arguably the most talented pass catcher in the entire Alabama football recruiting class — with undoubtedly the best footwork.
Tight End: B+
O.J. Howard is leaving for the NFL, and Alabama had to bring in a couple of guys to replace him. They did pretty well with Major Tennison and Kedrick James. Tennison is a former Texas commit and is the receiving threat out of the two. As for James, he’s a former Baylor commit and will help set the edge for the running game.
Offensive Line: A
Getting Kendall Randolph early was big. Keeping him from flipping was even bigger. The same can be said for Alex Leatherwood. Florida tried to flip him for months and failed. When you factor in Jedrick Wills and Elliot Baker, that comes out to four blue-chip offensive tackles with one of them (Leatherwood) being a 5-star prospect. Plus, the Tide picked up 3-star offensive guard Hunter Brannon for more depth.
Defensive Line: A
Well, Alabama got LaBryan Ray, which we never really doubted would happen. But it paired him with JUCO transfer Isaiah Buggs, so that combination can be lethal in Tuscaloosa. The Crimson Tide also found a way to beat out LSU and TCU for 4-star defensive tackle Phidarian Mathis. But when you consider how Alabama convinced 4-star defensive end Jarez Parks to take a grayshirt, you sit and wonder how Saban’s staff continues to do it year after year. It’s baffling.
Les Miles’ firing certainly helped because Dylan Moses probably ends up in Baton Rouge if that doesn’t happen, but Alabama hit it out of the park here, too. Adding Moses to the class is self-explanatory. Months earlier, the Crimson Tide flipped VanDarius Cowan from Florida State, and the 5-star outside linebacker set the tone for not only this current class but for all future Alabama football recruiting classes with his “savages want to play with savages” motto. With 4-star outside linebacker Chris Allen and 4-star inside linebacker Markail Benton also in the class, Cowan’s catchphrase held true. Plus, it was a clutch move by Alabama to fend off Auburn as it was trying to flip Benton.
Defensive Backs: B-
So, you have to give credit where credit is due here. The Tide found a way to beat out Clemson and get 4-star safety Xavier McKinney back into the class. It also flipped 4-star safety Daniel Wright, brother of Major Wright, from Florida State. But Alabama did fall short in the cornerback department. It picked up 3-star prospect Kyriq McDonald, but it failed to flip Shaun Wade from Ohio State and failed to flip Chris Henderson from Florida.
Alabama Football Recruiting Class Overall Grade: A+
Note: Scout rankings and ratings used in this article.