Despite losing some early-morning recruiting battles, Nick Saban and the Tide are still heavy favorites to emerge with the country's top recruiting class by the end of the day.
For a program that has suffered few losses recently, the early morning hours of national signing day has seen some of Alabama’s top remaining targets spurn the Tide at the last minute.
Despite those losses, the two-time defending national champions already have the pieces in place to absorb those blows.
The first hiccup came when Lake City (Fla.) Columbia offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil selected Ole Miss over the Crimson Tide and Georgia.
However, Nick Saban is expected to land former Texas commit and 5-star offensive lineman A’Shawn Robinson later today—which would effectively fill the void left by Tunsil.
Alabama has already added three linemen in the 2013 class—which fills one of the Tide’s biggest needs for this cycle.
The Rebels also outlasted the Tide in the race to land 5-star safety Tony Conner.
Another 5-star safety, Ridgeland (Ga.) product Vonn Bell, selected Ohio State over Alabama and Tennessee.
Despite losing out on two of the country’s top defensive backs, the 2013 class does include one safety commit—4-star New Jersey prospect Anthony Averett.
Another player that could get a look at safety is 4-star athlete ArDarius Stewart—who can also play receiver.
Additionally, the 2012 class included 5-star talents Landon Collins and Eddie Williams (who redshirted last season)—with each player expected to contend for heavy playing time this season.
Considering Saban’s hands-on approach to working with and molding his defensive backs, the Tide’s secondary has more than enough pieces on campus and in the 2013 class to fill its needs at safety.
Also, Saban thrives on having his defensive backs learn multiple positions—and that versatility helps create depth when cases like injuries or attrition occur.
With a roster stockpiled with talent from previous top-rated recruiting classes in each of the last two seasons, and the factor of being one of the most popular destinations for the nation's top recruits, Alabama is in a unique situation that allows it to move forward without losing steam in its class.
As for the 2013 class, the early morning setbacks are likely to give way to some early afternoon successes—with Robinson and running back Alvin Kamara a few of the big names left on the board that are considered leans to end up at the Capstone. Defensive tackle Dee Liner led the way, inking with the Tide in the early afternoon, per SBNation.
While losing talents like Tunsil, Bell and Conner would be crippling blows to most programs, the Tide have already signed five players with a 5-star rating according to 247 Sports Composite rankings.
After some minor speed bumps this morning, Alabama remains a heavy favorite to finish with the nation’s top class when the dust settles this evening.