Alabama Football: Nick Saban's Boldest Recruiting Moves Ever
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As hard as it is to defeat a Nick Saban-coached team on the field, the task appears equally as great to get the better of him on the recruiting trail.
Like his recent Alabama teams, Saban and his coaching staff attack their initial evaluation periods and relentlessly pursue their top targets until their needs and goals are met.
The results speak for themselves considering that three of Alabama’s last five signing classes have been ranked as the nation’s best by at least one major recruiting service—and none have failed to finish outside of the top five.
However, to win big in February, every coach—Saban included—has had their share of nervous moments in a process that revolves around decisions made by 17-year-olds.
So which players made Saban dig deep in his bag of tricks?
Here are Nick Saban’s five boldest recruiting moves ever.
5. Alvin Kamara
Alabama’s 2013 recruiting class—which is on pace to finish as the top class in the nation yet again, according to 247sports.com—already features a pair of top-notch commitments at running back.
How else would you describe sending 105 letters in one day to the same player?
While Kamara still hasn’t made his college destination known, Saban has considerably raised the bar for the Crimson Tide’s competitors to show him how much of a priority he is for their respective schools.
4. Brice Ramsey
Courtesy, 247 Sports
Saban has proven to be a tireless recruiter, and his work ethic is the same when dealing with recruits that are already committed to Alabama, committed elsewhere or kids who are still on the market.
Before landing a pair of quarterback commitments for the 2013 class, Saban was hot on the trail of Kingsland (GA) quarterback Brice Ramsey—who is committed to Georgia.
Saban reportedly spoke with the prized signal-caller for roughly 90 minutes via Skype, and although the maneuver didn’t get Ramsey to switch his pledge, it showed that Saban will leave no stone unturned in his attempt to get the players he wants (h/t Michael Carvell, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution).
3. Brent Calloway
Courtesy, 247 Sports
The two-way standout from Russellville (AL) was one of Saban’s first commitments for the 2011 class before making a shocking switch to Auburn at the U.S. Army All-American game—partly due to his desire to play running back.
However, Calloway flipped back to Alabama on signing day—with a caveat being that he would get a shot to play running back.
Saban delivered on that promise, but Calloway has since moved to H-back where he will compete for the starting nod as a redshirt freshman.
2. Julio Jones
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Saban’s 2008 recruiting class will be remembered as the class that jump started the Crimson Tide’s latest dynasty.
Jones was the top player in the state of Alabama and a 5-star talent who was a must-have playmaker that the Crimson Tide desperately needed—and more importantly, one that they couldn’t let slip away.
Schools like Oklahoma and Florida State were rumored to be in the mix, but Saban’s persistence won out when the dynamic receiver chose Alabama on signing day.
Ultimately, Saban didn’t promise him a starting job—but he and then-offensive coordinator Jim McElwain assured Jones that he would be a big part of the Tide’s offense (via The Birmingham News)—and the rest is history.
1. Landon Collins
Saban has gone head-to-head with some of college football’s top coaches in the battle to land some of the country’s top prospects—but Les Miles was not his biggest obstacle in luring 5-star safety Landon Collins.
The video of Collins’ announcing his commitment to Alabama at the Under-Armour All-American—more specifically, of April Justin’s objection to her son’s choice—made this pursuit turn into a bit of a soap opera.
The fact that Saban was able to land Collins out of LSU’s backyard, and eventually win mom over after a fierce recruiting battle is a testament of his determination on the recruiting trail (h/t Matt Scalici, al.com).
Landing Collins (and the support of his mother) may prove to be worth the effort—and it does not hurt that his younger brother—potential top 2014 defensive lineman Gerald Willis—is already interested in the Crimson Tide.