Alabama is ranked 21st in the 247Sports Composite team recruiting rankings for the Class of 2018. Some teams ahead of the Crimson Tide include: BYU, Wake Forest, Duke, Kansas, Minnesota and Northwestern.
There is certainly no way any of those teams will have a better recruiting class than Alabama. But what gives? The Crimson Tide have surely started slowly this recruiting cycle. They only have three commits. As an aside, we aren’t considering former signees Akial Byers and Kendell Jones, who are both in junior college, as commitments, even though they consider themselves as such. The team will need to recruit those guys again and offer a scholarship if they want them back in the fold.
Unlike the past two recruiting cycles, there’s currently not a 5-star where it would be a shocker if he went anywhere other than Alabama. In 2016, it was linebackers Ben Davis and Mack Wilson. In 2017, it was wide receiver Jerry Jeudy and offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood. The only current 5-star where there’s a good chance that he chooses Alabama is wide receiver Justyn Ross, who is from Central High School in Phenix, City, Ala. Even then, Auburn is considered the favorite to land him by several reporters in the industry.
There are two main reasons, in my opinion, for why Alabama has gotten off to a slow start in the Class of 2018: the revolving door of assistant coaches and the lack of spots in this class.
Since 2015, Kirby Smart, Mario Cristobal, Billy Napier, Bo Davis, Mel Tucker and Bobby Williams have left the school or, in Williams’ case, been assigned to an off-field role. Two of Alabama’s current coaches, Brian Daboll and Joe Pannunzio, are coming from the NFL and needed to build relationships from scratch with Alabama’s targets. Some of the returning coaches got reassigned new recruiting territories and, therefore, needed to build new relationships, too.
Relationships are one of the biggest factors for why recruits pick schools. Alabama is working overtime on building some of those relationships.
The second reason why the Tide haven’t started so hot is because this class will be smaller than last year’s. If nothing changes from now until the start of the season, the Tide will have three Class of 2017 recruits count against their 2018 class. Hunter Brannon, Joseph Bulovas and Jarez Parks did not sign a letter of intent and therefore will count against the Class of 2018’s numbers. That’s three fewer scholarships. The team likely will have to give a punter a scholarship, too, because this is JK Scott’s final year. From SEC Country’s understanding, the team can only sign 24 recruits in 2018, so that’s four scholarships used right there. Alabama hasn’t been pushing kids to make early commitments because it has to be very selective due to the lack of spots.
Now, Alabama has signed the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class for seven consecutive years, so don’t think the Tide won’t be near the top of the rankings come signing day; however, I think the streak ends this year.
The Tide have lots of ground to make up for some of the nation’s best players, but they are in the mix for linebacker Teradja Mitchell, defensive end/outside linebacker K.J. Henry and Justyn Ross, who are all 5-star prospects.
Not all is end-of-the-world doom and gloom, though. Alabama leads for the nation’s No. 1 outside linebacker JJ Peterson, No. 1 junior college tight end Dominick Wood-Anderson, elite cornerback Christian Tutt and in-state defensive tackle Jalen Cunningham. Also, the team is in good position to flip Miami cornerback commit Josh Jobe and LSU cornerback commit Kelvin Joseph.
As long as Nick Saban is coaching at the University of Alabama, there’s no reason why anyone should worry about the team’s recruiting efforts.