Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide don't rebuild—they reload.
It's a trite, boring, hackneyed thing to say, but that doesn't make it any less true. They just steamrolled Notre Dame en route to their second consecutive BCS National Championship, and now they're gearing up to add more blue-chip talent next season.
ESPN.com currently credits Alabama with the second-best recruiting class in the country, barely edged out by SEC rival Florida. But National Signing Day is still a couple weeks away; the Tide have more than enough time to leapfrog the Gators.
Here are three of the top unsigned recruits in the nation, all of whom sit at, or near, the top of Alabama's late-January wish list.
OT Laremy Tunsil
Between Robert Nkemdiche, Matthew Thomas and Mackenzie Alexander, there's plenty of competition for the title of "best unsigned prospect." But perhaps no bigger domino, both literally and figuratively, has yet to fall than Larmey Tunsil.
Check out his rankings from across the major recruiting databases:
|Database||Overall Rank||Positional Rank (OT)|
Based on the sources above, Alabama and Georgia are the"favorites" to land Tunsil's services, but Florida State could be a surprise player too.
Whoever it is that's lucky enough to wind up with Tunsil will reap the benefits of his presence rather quickly. He's got every tool in the book, and could be an instant impact type of player.
With Alabama's dominant offensive line departing en masse this season, scoring Tunsil needs to be recruiting priority No. 1.
DT Eddie Vanderdoes
The first of two formerly committed defensive tackles on this list, Vanderdoes is most certainly among the best unsigned prospects in the nation. Check out what Brian Perroni of 247Sports had to say after watching him at Army Bowl practice this year:
The former USC commit was simply the most dominant prospect at any position on Tuesday. Vanderdoes is a huge presence on the interior at 6-foot-3, 304 pounds. He is strong as an ox, especially in his upper body, and he used his strength in one-on-ones to blow several offensive linemen completely off the ball. He also used his quickness to beat guard Josh Boutte, which is not easily accomplished.
Unfortunately for Alabama, Vanderdoes isn't just one of the most talented prospects in the nation; he's also one of the most fickle. He's already get a proven track record of de-committing (he was initially slated to play at USC), and his recruitment has been one of the hardest in the nation to get a hold on.
Per Greg Ostendorf of ESPN.com, USC and Notre Dame both also have upcoming visits scheduled with Vanderdoes—two of the biggest recruiting powerhouses in the country.
Alabama has had unprecedented on-field success the past four years, and the breadth of that triumph has extended, for the most part, to recruiting. Landing Vanderdoes will be no easy task, but definitely not one Nick Saban is incapable of.
DT Dee Liner
Liner de-committed from Auburn on Monday, ending months of speculation about the commitment of...well, his commitment.
Per Matt Scalici of AL.com:
"Alabama is one of my favorites, but my de-committing from Auburn has nothing to do with Alabama," Liner told AuburnSports. "I just didn't feel comfortable with the coaching staff. I've been holding it in, I just had to get it off my shoulders."
Even in a vacuum, landing Liner would be a nice coup for Alabama. They just lost out on DeMarcus Walker to Florida State, and Liner is a consensus four-to-five star recruit. But taking him away from rival Auburn would make scoring Liner extra-sweet in Tuscaloosa.
Miami and LSU are both also toward the top of Liner's list (h/t ESPN.com).