Does Alabama or Auburn Have Early Upper Hand in 2017 Recruiting Rivalry?

Sanjay Kirpalani@@SanjayKirpalaniNational Recruiting AnalystFebruary 25, 2016

Alabama head coach Nick Saban and Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn figure to bump heads for a handful of recruits in the 2017 cycle.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban and Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn figure to bump heads for a handful of recruits in the 2017 cycle.Butch Dill/Associated Press

The rivalry between Alabama and Auburn will continue to play out as the two schools battle it out on the recruiting trail in the coming months. 

If the early returns for the 2017 cycle are any indicator, both SEC powers are primed to land groups rated among the nation’s elite come next February. 

The Crimson Tide, who have recorded six straight No. 1 recruiting classes, have jumped out the gates fast with eight commitments and have a class currently ranked No. 2. 

Meanwhile, the Tigers only have three pledges in the early going, but two of them—5-star offensive lineman Calvin Ashley and 4-star athlete Alaric Williams—rate among the nation’s top 200 overall prospects who are rising seniors. 

2017 Recruiting Class Outlook: Alabama vs. Auburn
247Sports' composite rankings

Tide head coach Nick Saban and his program’s fast start in the 2017 cycle gives them an early edge to land the better group of the two schools, but there’s a lot of work left to be done for both squads.

Alabama figures to be involved in a handful of the nation’s elite prospects from around the country.

Among the 5-star prospects the Tide are heavily recruiting are linebacker Dylan Moses, defensive tackle Marvin Wilson, corners Darnay Holmes and Deangelo Gibbs, safety Jeffrey Okudah and offensive linemen Isaiah Wilson and Wyatt Davis.

All of those players are from outside the Tide’s backyard. In fact, only two of the Tide’s current pledges hail from within the state’s borders.

However, Saban and his staff are in the mix with talented in-state prospects such as 4-star receiver Nico Collins and 4-star offensive linemen Austin Troxell and Kendall Randolph.

With their current class already possessing heavy hitters like 5-star running back Najee Harris, the groundwork appears to be in place for the Tide to aim at their seventh straight No. 1 class.

But, considering their strong close to the 2016 cycle, Tigers head coach Gus Malzahn and his staff have a shot to make a run at the top spot as well.

The Tigers are in on top talents such as Gibbs, 4-star offensive lineman Trey Smith, 4-star running back Cordarrian Richardson, 4-star athlete Tray Bishop and 4-star quarterback Lowell Narcisse—who was once committed to the Tigers before reopening his process.

Additionally, the Tigers are trending with in-state prospects such as 4-star linebackers Markail Benton and Tadarian Moultry and 4-star defensive end Ryan Johnson.

Plus, according to Ryan Bartow of 247Sports, 4-star linebacker Will Ignont—an Alabama native who recently transferred to Florida prep power IMG Academy—confirmed that the Tigers are his leader at last weekend’s Orlando Nike Opening Regional camp.

It’s a safe bet that the two rivals will be squaring off head-to-head for a few of these and other prospects in the 2017 cycle.

Alabama has the early edge, but expect its fiercest rival to be one of its biggest threats to land another top-rated class next February.

Sanjay Kirpalani is a National Recruiting Analyst for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand, and all recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.