Alabama Football: 5 Reasons Why the Tide Are Better off Without Reuben Foster
By backing out of his verbal commitment to play football at Alabama, Rivals' top linebacker of the 2013 class and second highest rated prospect overall set the entire state of Alabama on fire. Reuben Foster had been committed to play at Alabama for almost an entire year before changing his mind and committing to the arch-rival Auburn Tigers.
This set off a whirlwind of opinions from the Tide nation. From false reports that the end of the world was imminent to claims that Foster is not as good as advertised anyway, reactions were plentiful and all over the map.
First of all, all indications are that Foster is indeed the real deal. The fact that he has verbally committed to be playing his college football on the Plains does not change that.
Secondly, the acquisition of Foster is a very big deal for Auburn head coach Gene Chizik and the Tigers. As Alabama knows well, one elite prospect often leads to another, and another, and sometimes even another.
But most importantly, Alabama fans must realize that Reuben Foster is only one man. With or without Foster, Alabama will be just fine. At the end of the day, Reuben Foster may have done Alabama a tremendous favor.
1. Commit or Get off the Pot
It is a word that Nick Saban pounds mercilessly into the minds of his players. Alabama faithful have become accustomed to hearing words like "commitment," "finish" and "process" when their beloved head coach speaks.
Reuben Foster made a commitment. He made a commitment to play ball at Alabama. Now he has made another commitment to play at Auburn instead. So what is this second commitment really worth?
In fairness, we should probably be a little easier than that on a high school teenager. Still, if Foster is the young, impressionable kid that he appears to be, commitment may be a responsibility that is a little too much for him at this point. And there is really no shame in that. Most teenagers are incapable of making a true, meaningful and dependable commitment.
Nonetheless, Foster just did Saban and Alabama a huge favor. By backing out of his commitment to sign with the Tide next February now, almost seven months before national signing day, Saban and his collection of recruiting superstars have plenty of time to find someone else.
And they will.
Top Rated Recruits Are Not Always the Top Recruits
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Who remembers Bryce Brown? He was the top recruit in the nation back in 2009, a running back for the Tennessee Volunteers. From there, his path to becoming a seventh-round pick in the 2012 NFL draft was a long and winding road that never quite went the way it was supposed to.
At Alabama, under the watch of Saban, the Tide has been loaded with top-notch linebackers.
In the 2007 class, Rolando McClain was rated as the No. 2 linebacker in the nation according to Rivals.com.
In 2008, Saban brought in Courtney Upshaw (No. 12) and Dont'a Hightower (No. 15).
Nico Johnson was rated second by Rivals in 2009 and, in 2010, C.J. Mosely was rated sixth, ahead of Adrian Hubbard who was 10th.
With this most recent class, again according to Rivals, Saban signed the first-, fourth-, fifth-, sixth- and 12th-rated linebackers in the nation.
None of the above were the top in the nation. Three of them are now playing on Sundays and three others will be terrorizing SEC offenses this fall on their way to the NFL while the others wait for their turn.
Just because a recruiting service ranks a 17-year-old kid as the top in the nation doesn't always make it so.
There Are Other Fish in the Sea
Matthew Thomas - Linebacker
Losing Reuben Foster is obviously not something Nick Saban wanted. Still, as one of the most well-planned and dedicated recruiters in college football, Saban does have other options.
Matthew Thomas of Miami is rated as the second best outside linebacker in the nation and he lists his interest in Alabama as "high." Now that Foster is out of the mix, Thomas will not doubt be getting a little more attention from Saban, and his interest in the Tide may have risen a little bit as well.
From the Baton Rouge area of Louisiana, Kendell Beckwith is the third highest rated "athlete" of the 2013 class. Beckwith played both defensive end and quarterback in high school, but many believe that he will be best suited to play linebacker in college. Also interested in Alabama, Beckwith is high on Saban's radar as well.
Nick Saban is going to get his man. If it's a linebacker he wants, it's a linebacker he will get. Foster is a heck of an athlete, but he's not the only one.
Class Is More Than a Place You Go Before Practice
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Again, we must understand that Reuben Foster is still a young boy. He may have the talent of a grown man, but with another year of high school ahead of him, Mr. Foster, like most, still has a lot of growing up to do.
As detailed here on Bleacher Report, Foster took the time to take a little jab at Alabama and freshman running back T.J.Yeldon on his way out the door.
His statement read, almost letter for letter, exactly the same way that Yeldon read his letter when decommitting from Auburn last winter in favor of Alabama. Surely Foster did not know how Yeldon's announcement read until someone pointed it out to him.
Again, though, young and impressionable won out as Foster took the page right out of Yeldon's profile as he flipped to the other side of the state.
This is really a non-story and is ultimately a harmless exclamation. Still, we all know how Saban expects his student-athletes to handle themselves with class at all times. And this was not exactly a classy move by Foster.
Saban Seems to Be a Pretty Good Recruiter
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Nick Saban knew a little something about recruiting long before he brought his wares to Tuscaloosa in 2007. It is at the Capstone, however, that Saban has honed his craft into a fine art.
Since coming to the Tide, four of Saban's six recruiting classes have been rated as the best in the nation by Rivals.com. His other two classes were fifth (2010) and 10th (2007).
He appears to be pretty good at recruiting linebackers as well, as he has brought in a top-five class of linebackers in four of the last five years according to Scout.com.
Sure, Reuben Foster is one that got away, but he is not the first. He will not be the last.
With the reputation for winning that Saban has brought to Alabama, he will get the class that he wants come next winter.
Just like Saban did not throw in the towel after a loss to LSU last November, he will not be deterred by losing out on Reuben Foster. Possibly the hardest working and most dedicated coach in college football, Saban will not rest until he gets what he wants. As you may have heard, he's pretty good.