While fans and supporters of the Crimson Tide were basking in the glow of piling up a collection of 2012’s best prep stars, Saban and his staff were already looking ahead to 2013.
The top prize in the country for next year’s class is Loganville (Ga.) Grayson defensive end Robert Nkemdiche—a 6’5” 270-pound freak who is rumored to be leaning towards inking with the Crimson Tide this time next year.
Playing both ways during his junior season, Nkemdiche racked up 18 sacks on defense, and 17 rushing touchdowns on offense.
To give fans an idea of how talented Nkemdiche is, the stud defensive lineman has been mentioned as a once-in-a-generation type of prospect—similar to SEC legends like Bo Jackson and Herschel Walker.
Numerous schools have taken notice, with Nkemdiche already fielding offers from powerhouses such as Alabama, Florida, LSU, Oregon, South Carolina, FSU and Auburn, amongst others.
However, there are other factors that could play into where the nation’s top prospect ends up attending college.
His brother, Denzel, just completed his freshman season as a defensive back at Ole Miss, and early reports surfaced that the two siblings were a package deal.
With the coaching turnover that has since transpired in Oxford—from Houston Nutt to Hugh Freeze--that sentiment appears to be fading.
It is hard to imagine that Alabama’s defense last season had a weakness—but if there was one consistent element missing from last year’s record-setting group—it was the lack of a dominant defensive-end presence in the Tide’s 3-4 scheme.
Considering the success the Tide enjoyed in Georgia for the 2012 cycle—eight Georgia natives made up the 26-man class--snagging the top recruit in the Peach State, who plays less than an hour away from Athens, would help the Tide in their quest to notch back-to-back top-rated recruiting classes.
According to his profile on 247 Sports, Nkemdiche was one of several players who attended Alabama’s Junior Day on the last weekend in January.
As LSU learned with Landon Collins, never count Saban out when he targets a marquee out-of-state recruit.
Regardless of the twists and turns that are sure to occur with a prospect of this magnitude, expect the Crimson Tide to be in the thick of the race for Nkemdiche’s signature until next February.