All of Alabama’s signees in the Class of 2016 are supposed to report to campus Monday, so let’s take one last look back before they begin summer workouts.
For the sixth straight year, Alabama had the nation’s No. 1 recruiting class. Why is that such an important statistic?
Well, those highly rated recruits have helped the Crimson Tide win four championships during that span. SB Nation put together this handy guide on why getting four- or five-star recruits, otherwise known as blue-chip prospects, is so important. Entering the 2015 season, 77 percent of Alabama’s roster was comprised of blue-chip prospects, the most of any program.
A direct correlation exists between winning the recruiting war and winning championships. Alabama has done both, and the Tide will continue to compete for championships year in and year out as long as they continue to dominate recruiting.
STARS OF THE CLASS
Alabama signed three five-star prospects in the Class of 2016. Jonah Williams, an offensive tackle, committed to Alabama in April of 2015. Unlike the majority of recruits now, once Williams committed, visits to other schools ceased. He took one official visit, and that was to Alabama. He’s one of the rare five-stars who committed early and never once wavered on his commitment.
Ben Davis, a five-star inside linebacker, was the top-rated player at his position. He committed to Alabama on National Signing Day over Auburn and Georgia; Davis claimed it was truly close between the Tide and Tigers. Most believed that his commitment to Alabama was going to be a slam dunk because his father, Wayne, was a Tide legend and still holds the program record for most career tackles.
Lyndell “Mack” Wilson was another five-star linebacker who definitely enjoyed the recruiting process. For several months, he claimed Florida was his leader but ended up eliminating the Gators after a “miscommunication” between his mother and the Florida staff. On National Signing Day, Wilson chose Alabama over Georgia. The Bulldogs were in the mix because of his strong relationship with Kirby Smart, who started recruiting Wilson when the linebacker was in the ninth grade.
THREE WHO COULD PLAY RIGHT AWAY
Depending on how Cam Robinson’s legal situation shakes out, Williams potentially could start immediately. Nick Saban already has raved about Williams’ play this spring: The freshman already has seen some time working with the first team.
“Jonah Williams has really played nicely and actually played left tackle today with the first team and did a really nice job,” Saban said in March. “I feel better about the number of guys that we have to coach and develop on the offensive line. We need to see what we need to do to get the best five guys out there.”
Cornerback Nigel Knott certainly will see some playing time this season. Though Alabama has two star corners in Minkah Fitzpatrick and Marlon Humphrey, Knott will see the field, whether it be in the kick/punt return game or on offense. Knott has said the Alabama staff has talked to him about the possibility of getting some snaps at receiver, just like what New England Patriots rookie Cyrus Jones did while at Alabama. Regardless of position, Knott is one of the most athletic players in the Class of 2016.
Ben Davis will also see the field. You just can’t sit a guy who is already at 6-foot-3, 240 pounds and looks like an NFL linebacker. Throughout Davis’ recruitment, Saban told him he expects him to fill Reggie Ragland’s shoes. Davis will be on the field this fall.
TWO BIGGEST SURPRISES
Running back Joshua Jacobs was the biggest surprise in the Class of 2016. His recruitment picked up only two weeks before National Signing Day. Once he picked up the scholarship offer from Alabama, it became likely he was going to choose the Tide. He admitted those feelings to SEC Country.
“Knowing that it’s your dream school, you’re already going to be kind of biased,” Jacobs said. “I wanted to take my feelings out of it and think of it more as a business decision and think of it more as a life choice. When I actually visited the campus and met everybody, it was perfect.”
Aaron Robinson flipped from Florida to Alabama on National Signing Day. That was surely surprising, as Alabama was expected to get commitments from Shyheim Carter and Jared Mayden on signing day (Knott committed before signing day). The addition of Robinson made Alabama’s cornerback class arguably the best in the country.
DOWN TO THE WIRE
Three recruits had academic issues to sort out before getting to Alabama: Aaron Robinson, defensive tackle Raekwon Davis and running back B.J. Emmons. All three have resolved their issues and are expected to be on campus Monday. Every 2016 signee will be at Alabama this fall, except for offensive lineman Charles Baldwin, who was dismissed for an undisclosed issue.
Since Nick Saban took over the Alabama program, every recruiting class has had one at least one national championship. Expect no different with this class. Alabama is one of the only college football programs to send players to the NFL every season and just reload with other highly regarded players the next. The Crimson Tide are never in rebuild mode because of their recruiting success. The biggest question mark entering this fall is who will line up at quarterback, but does it really matter? Because of recruiting dominance, the talent on both sides of the ball is so elite that Alabama will be fine no matter who the quarterback is.
All rankings are provided by the 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted.
Chris Kirschner covers Alabama football recruiting for SECCountry.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play in Bryant-Denny.