College football's 2013 National Signing Day is in the books and Athlon Sports kicks off its 2013 team recruiting rankings countdown with an in-depth look at the some of the best classes in the nation.
Recruiting championships led to national championships, which have led to more recruiting championships. See a pattern for Alabama? The 2013 recruiting national championship is the third recruiting title in six seasons and each of the last six signing classes rank in the top five nationally. Nick Saban also set an Athlon Sports record with 15 Athlon Consensus 100 signees. The previous record was set by Florida in 2010 (13). The Process has become The Machine.
No. 1: Alabama Crimson Tide
SEC Rank: First
Athlon Consensus 100 Signees: 15
National Signees: 18
Total Signees: 25
Where They Got 'Em:
Nick Saban continues to recruit nationally after his fourth BCS Championship and third in four years at Alabama. He used 13 different states to land his 25 new faces in 2013. The Southeast remained his primary focus as Alabama (seven), Georgia (three), Florida, Louisiana, Tennessee, Texas (two each) and Arkansas (one) provided the majority of the class. He landed the top five players in the state of Alabama.
But it wasn't the just the SEC footprint that provided Alabama with elite talent. Saban continued his remarkable ability to recruit the Northeast by landing a star player from Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and New Jersey. He also went out west to snag an AC100 quarterback from Utah and long snapper from California.
Areas of Focus:
Alabama's 2013 haul is a balanced group with elite level skill at nearly every position. The offensive skill positions, however, appeared to be a major area of focus for Saban and his staff. The Tide brought in two scholarship quarterbacks and one walk-on in this group. Cooper Bateman is the highest rated of the bunch, landing in the AC100 as the No. 4-rated QB prospect in the nation. He will be pushed by three-star Parker McLeod and walk-on Luke Del Rio. All three have enrolled early and have a chance to learn under A.J. McCarron before he leaves for the NFL following the 2013 season.
The running back corps in this class is downright nasty. Alabama signed four of the top 13 running backs in the nation. Derrick Henry (No. 1), Alvin Kamara (No. 7), Altee Tenpenny (No. 10) and Tyren Jones (No. 13) form what has to be one of the best running back classes in the history of recruiting. Each brings something different and unique to the offense as Henry and Jones bring big, physical frames while Kamara and Tenpenny bring speed and elusiveness.
A three-man pass-catching class wraps up one of the best offensive skill classes in the nation. Robert Foster is the No. 2-ranked wide receiver in the nation while tight end O.J. Howard is considered the top player at his position nationally. Offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier has plenty of new toys to utilize. And with two athletes signed — Anthony Averett and ArDarius Stewart — this class could actually get deeper should they land on the offensive side of the ball as receivers.
The offensive line didn't get much focus as just three blockers signed in this group. Grant Hill is an AC100 talent and leads the small class that includes a junior college transfer and prep school recruit.
On defense, the front seven was clearly the area of focus. Three true defensive linemen, two of which were AC100 prospects, add elite depth to the most important position in the SEC. The appropriately named Dee Liner and A'Shawn Robinson were both top-50 players nationally while Darius Page was a four-star national recruit in his own right. All three were ranked in the top 25 nationally at their position.
The linebacker class is similar to the running backs in how scary good it could be in a few years. Reuben Foster is a prototype middle linebacker and was the No. 2 LB in the nation. Jonathan Allen is a hybrid end/outside backer who was the No. 4 LB in the nation. Tim Williams was ranked as the No. 9 linebacker in the nation. Toss in Walker Jones and the Tide has its next elite wave of linebackers. This group is versatile and can play all four positions in Kirby Smart's defense.
Saban signed three defensive backs, for now, with AC100 talent Maurice Smith leading the way. The wide receiver and secondary classes overall depth hinge on where the two "athletes" end up playing.
Offense: QB: 2, RB: 4, WR: 2, TE: 1, OL: 3, ATH: 2
Defense: DL: 4, LB: 3, DB: 3, LS: 1
Fort Worth, Texas
Muscle Shoals, Ala.
North Little Rock, Ark.
Baton Rouge, La.
Sugar Land, Texas
Luke Del Rio
Highland Ranch, Colo.
New Orleans, La.
Valley Grande, Ala.