Nick Saban and Alabama ruled national singing day yet again for the Crimson Tide's fourth straight No. 1 class, but it means little if the hype does not translate to production on the field.
The translation is no sure thing.
But first, let's take a gander at the awe-inspiring class only a video game could seemingly draw up:
Now that is a top-flight class. Six of the nation's top 16 players. Four from out of state. The top-ranked player from Alabama, Iowa, Virginia, South Carolina and Oklahoma are all here. ESPN's Jeremy Crabtree, by way of Paul Finebaum, offered some lofty praise:
.@jeremycrabtree on signing day results, "16 years of doing this, Alabama's class today is the best I've ever seen."— Paul Finebaum (@finebaum) February 5, 2014
What's not to like? Saban pulled a highway robbery by stealing Rashaan Evans, the nation's No. 1 outside linebacker, from right out of Gus Malzahn's back yard. There is Bo Scarbrough, the No. 2 overall athlete, who Saban says will play running back, according to . of AL.com
Oh, and then there is the No. 1 overall defensive end, Da'Shawn Hand. At 6'4" and 265 pounds with a blazing 4.60 40-yard dash, Hand is sure to be one of the nation's top defenders sooner rather than later. But right now, he says he is just focused on being a kid again, via Joey Lomonaco and Brandon Parker of The Washington Post:
"It feels amazing [being done with recruiting]. It feels great. I'm so happy that it's over. Now, it's time to just focus on school, training, work and being a kid. That's it."
This No. 1 class has been in the making for quite some time. Do not forget about Cameron Robinson, the nation's top offensive tackle who, at 6'7" and 335 pounds, will help Crimson Tide fans forget quickly about the NFL-draft bound Cyrus Kouandjio.
Tony Brown has been around for a while, too. He happens to be the No. 2 overall cornerback in the class. Jarran Reed? He is just the 6'4" and 310-pound defensive tackle who ranks behind just one prospect at the position.
The list goes on and on. Kudos to the Crimson Tide, but all of these names are just that—names.
It is impossible to predict that this sort of class will translate into success for Alabama, because as NFL.com's Mike Huguenin points out, there are simply too many variables between now and the next few years to confidently say any class, even this one, will lead to resounding success:
Projecting how a 17- or 18-year-old kid will play in three, four or five years of college football is tough. What happens when a four- or five-star prospect arrives on a campus and finds a team full of guys as big and fast as he is? And what happens when, for the first time, that stud high school player actually plays against guys who are even better? As all talent evaluators find, you can't truly measure intangibles, and that often is the biggest factor in an athlete's development.
Now add in the fact the rest of the SEC is keeping pace, and the recruiting crown may be a hollow one. Most dangerous of all is LSU, as Les Miles' team came in second place with a most impressive day, as ESPN details:
Not far behind in the No. 5 slot are the Texas A&M Aggies, a school that was able to land the No. 1 quarterback prospect in Kyle Allen and the No. 1 wideout, Speedy Noil. Those who thought the Aggies' days as an elite passing team with Johnny Manziel and Mike Evans gone are sorely mistaken.
Perhaps most dangerous of all are the Auburn Tigers, who come in right behind the Aggies. As readers surely know, the Tigers knocked out the Crimson Tide last year. The Tigers have stolen the nation's No. 3 guard Braden Smith from Alabama and also have a shiny new running back by the name of Roc Thomas.
Despite the stellar class, the competition around the Crimson Tide has stepped up. After two losses to close last season on a sour note, including that 45-31 debacle at the hands of Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl, Saban and his staff know that rankings numbers mean little.
Preparation and proper execution from the talent on the field is what matters. So enjoy the flashy numbers yet again, Crimson Tide faithful. But remember that there is a full season to be played before any team is crowned champion.