Alabama Football Recruiting: Grades and Analysis for Class of 2012
If anything the month of January (and the first day of February) showed there is no better place to be in college football right now than Tuscaloosa, Ala.
After all, when you bring home the BCS national championship on Jan. 9 and follow that up 23 days later with the country's No. 1 recruiting class... well, there's not much complaining to be done.
The funny thing is that even the most ardent of Alabama supporters will admit that coach Nick Saban can come off as surly at times, and one would think that wouldn't go over well with 17- and 18-year-old potential signees who are so used to everything they do being caramel-coated.
But, what Saban does works. That can't be denied.
Here is a look at his most recent masterpiece, the 26-player signing class of 2012.
The Crimson Tide signed nine offensive players, led by 5-star prep All American T.J. Yeldon.
At 6'2", 205 pounds he could potentially join projected starter Eddie Lacy as a 1-2 backfield punch that might rival recent exemplary combinations like Mark Ingram/Trent Richardson and Richardson/Lacy.
Not to be outdone, 4-star tailback Kenyan Drake (6'1", 195 pounds) is a heckuva prospect who could push for playing time early.
Alabama dipped into talent-rich Florida for a pair of wide receiver signees in Jacksonville's Chris Black and Miami's Amari Cooper. And 3-star Kurt Freitag is an underrated prospect who could thrive in the Tide's passing game, which likes to utilize the tight end.
Eventually throwing to them could be 3-star quarterback signee Alec Morris, who, like former signal-caller Greg McElroy, is a product of the state of Texas.
If he is a success story, it will be a testament to the evaluation ability of Saban and his staff, as Morris (6'3", 235) had just three finalists. And seeing Alabama listed next to North Texas and Wake Forest makes one curious to look a few years ahead to see what the Tide saw that not many others did.
Because quality depth returns, it is possible that none of the Crimson Tide's three offensive line signees will be called upon to contribute in 2012.
Still, look for 4-star Brandon Greene (6'6", 280), as well as 3-stars Caleb Gulledge (6'4", 255) and Brandon Hill (6'6", 352) to become good ones.
Nowhere in the word "Alabama" is the letter "D", but perhaps we should rethink that.
Coming off having arguably the greatest defense in college football, the Crimson Tide reloaded on national signing day, bringing in 15 signees (the other two were placekicker Adam Griffin and athlete Cyrus Jones).
Leading the way could be a pair of 5-star safeties who might end up rivaling 2011's brilliant duo of Robert Lester and Mark Barron.
At 6'4", 204 pounds, Eddie Williams is a long and rangy athlete who can cover a lot of ground in a short period of time. And 6'0", 199-pound Landon Collins, a Louisiana native who famously spurned LSU despite his mother's wishes, is one of the nation's most ready-to-play prospects.
Both could play in 2012, as could 4-star cornerbacks Travell Dixon (6'2", 200) of Eastern Arizona Junior College and Atlanta St. Pius X's Geno Smith (5'11, 180).
With the majority of its fantastic set of linebackers now prepping for the NFL scouting combine, Alabama had to reload.
And boy did it reload.
The Tide signed five 4-star prospects in Ryan Anderson (6'3", 250), Denzell Devall (6'2", 236), Tyler Hayes (6'3", 215), Dillon Lee (6'4", 220) and Reggie Ragland (6'4", 245).
All are talented guys who obviously aren't afraid of competition.
Alabama didn't sign any defensive ends, but perhaps there are plans for one of five defensive tackle signees to slide outside.
That group includes 4-star prospects Dalvin Tomlinson (6'2", 270) and heavily recruited Korren Kirven (6'4", 272), as well as 3-stars Dakota Ball (6'2", 292), Darren Lake (6'3", 330) and Alphonse Taylor (6'6", 340).
Loaded. Just loaded.
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
There is no disputing who the analysts and recruiting networks ranked No. 1 overall nationally.
Aside from scout.com, which went with Texas and the Tide second, everyone (that would be ESPN, Rivals, 247sports.com, Tom Lemming (CBS Sports) and Allen Wallace (SuperPrep Magazine) had Alabama atop the team standings.
And we know what Saban can do with talent.
This could be scary for years to come.