Alabama put a bow on its 2018 recruiting class on Wednesday. The Crimson Tide didn’t sign the nation’s top class, and it’s the lowest-rated signing class since 2007, according to 247Sports’ team rankings. But, at the end of the day, it should still be considered a success.
Let’s give out some grades.
Grading Alabama’s 2018 offensive signing class
Alabama didn’t sign a quarterback in the 2018 class. There were points throughout the recruiting cycle that the Crimson Tide led or were close to landing one. In early October, Miami signee Jarren Williams was close to flipping from Kentucky, which is where he was committed to, to Alabama. The team decided to push for Florida signee Emory Jones instead, who was committed to Ohio State, but there was a small chance he was actually going to sign with the Buckeyes. Jones told SEC Country that he was leaning toward Alabama after taking an official visit to Tuscaloosa for the Tennessee game. Then Dan Mullen, a coach Jones had a relationship with, was hired at Florida. Jones took an official visit there late in the process and the rest is history. Alabama then tried to get Princeton commit Brevin White to change his mind, and he didn’t. The Tide didn’t strongly pursue Brock Purdy or James Foster. It always going to be tough to sign a quarterback when you consider Alabama had the reigning SEC Offensive Player of the Year in Jalen Hurts and the nation’s No. 1 dual-threat prospect in Tua Tagovailoa.
Running back was going to be another hard position for the Tide to land an elite-caliber player with the players who are currently in Tuscaloosa. Alabama tried to get 5-star prospect Zamir White. The Tide were close, but early playing time is easier in Athens than it is in Tuscaloosa. The team then shifted focus to Asa Martin. Martin signed with Auburn. The Tigers drilled the message into his head that he’d play early at Auburn. Alabama ended up signing 3-star prospect Jerome Ford, who, in my opinion, is underrated. He has track speed, runs a low 4.4 40-yard dash and can catch the ball out of the backfield. He may not play right away, but I think he’ll end up being a good player.
Alabama did well at wide receiver. It landed 4-star prospects Xavier Williams and Jaylen Waddle plus 3-star prospect Slade Bolden. The Tide missed on 4-star prospects Justyn Ross (Clemson) and Jacob Copeland (Florida) on National Signing Day. It was a surprise Ross ended up choosing Clemson. According to sources, he had told Alabama he was signing with the Tide. But, that’s recruiting for you. Still, Waddle is one of the most electrifying prospects in the 2018 class. Even with the wide receiver room being young, expect him to make an immediate impact next year. He’s Christian Kirk 2.0. He’s that explosive.
At tight end, Michael Parker is overlooked. He is someone who was all in with Alabama. Parker was willing to take a greyshirt or blueshirt in order for Alabama to fill its needs on Wednesday if it was getting close to being a full class. You want players like Parker in your locker room. But the tight end position is definitely a position that Alabama fans should second guess. The team decided to strongly pursue Dominick Wood-Anderson, the nation’s No. 1 junior college tight end, who was arguably the flakiest recruit in the 2018 class. He silently committed to at least 4 schools, told Nick Saban on two separate occasions that he was going to choose Alabama only for him to choose Texas and then sign with Tennessee. Meanwhile, Luke Ford, who signed with Georgia, had Alabama as his leader, but the Tide didn’t pursue aggressively.
Alabama was planning on signing 3 offensive linemen. It only landed 2 players in tackle Tommy Brown and Emil Ekiyor. It missed on 5-star tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere (Ohio State) and Penei Sewell (Oregon). That’s fine. The Tide are absolutely loaded on the offensive line.
While this group definitely had it’s fair share of misses, it’s also highlighted by lots of talented players who will make an impact in Tuscaloosa.
Grading Alabama’s 2018 defensive signing class
Alabama needed to strike gold with its defensive backs after losing every single starter in the secondary. The Tide landed the nation’s No. 1 cornerback in Patrick Surtain Jr. What a recruiting win that was for Alabama. LSU led for over a year. He’s now going to play for LSU’s rival. The Tide also landed the nation’s No. 1 overall junior college prospect in Saivion Smith, who transferred to Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College after spending a year at LSU. Surtain and Smith will likely see the field early next season. Alabama also addded Josh Jobe, one of the best defensive backs in the class who may end up at safety, the top DB in the state of Alabama in Jalyn Armour-Davis, and Eddie Smith, who may end up being the steal of this class.
The Tide needed to add more depth on the defensive line heading into next season, but the team only added 4-star defensive tackles Christian Barmore and Stephon Wynn. Both of those guys have the ability to play early, but the Tide needed at least one more body here. Alabama missed on Bobby Brown, who fiipped from the Tide to Texas A&M on Signing Day and 4-star defensive end Malik Langham, who signed with Florida.
The outside linebacker group this cycle is excellent. Eyabi Anoma is going to be a freak. Jordan Davis has the potential to grow into a defensive end and so does Cameron Latu.
Inside linebacker is where the Tide missed on, and this is where coaching turnover really hurt Alabama. The Tide were going to sign Quay Walker and JJ Peterson if Jeremy Pruitt remained in Tuscaloosa, but Tennessee’s coaching search turned out to be a dumpster fire and it led the Volunteers to Pruitt, eventually. Vernon Jackson wasn’t pushed out of this class, but the Tide knew he wasn’t going to end up in Tuscaloosa. Brandon Kaho was leaning toward Alabama before he signed with Washington. I am not sure what happened there. Alabama did sign Jaylen Moody after giving him a late offer. The team needed at least one inside linebacker, and it got one in Moody.
You can’t forget about Skyler Delong, either. He was identified as the team’s top punter target and Delong flipped from Tennessee to Alabama. He’s likely going to be JK Scott’s replacement.
Grading Alabama’s 2018 overall signing class
After all of the coaching turnover, I think Nick Saban and his staff did a great job getting the players they did. We should also note that the 2018 class in the state of Alabama, from a high-end talent perspective, was down. That hurt the Tide.
I think this upcoming 2019 class is going to rival the 2017 class when it’s all said and done. The coaches Saban hired (Jeff Banks, Josh Gattis, Karl Scott and Pete Golding) are all excellent recruiters. You better believe Saban is going all out this next cycle to make sure he lands his top targets.
Overall grade: B