It’s time to put pen to paper. After years of phone calls, visits and speculation, here comes the early signing period. What will the future of Alabama football look like after the recruiting class meets in 2023? Here’s the AL.com primer:
Where the class stands
Alabama has three five-star chances and 20 four-star prospects among its 24 pledges. Some have already arrived in Tuscaloosa for Sugar Bowl practices. Ten of those operations are offensive players, 13 play defense and one player is shooting. Although some big additions are still on the table (more on that below), the Crimson Tide is in for a treat no matter what happens on Wednesday.
Nick Saban’s group is ranked No. 1 at 247 Sports Composite, regaining the top spot after searching at Texas A&M a year earlier. 247 class based on its internal ratings — each player has a numerical value based on their placement on the board — and Alabama is comfortably second in Georgia in both average recruiting rating (94.21 to 93.60) and overall (313.55 to 301.56).
How did we get here
Despite not making it to the College Football Playoff for the second time since 2019, and losing a championship last year, the Alabama coaches haven’t lost their connection with the high schoolers. Look no further than Georgia, where the two biggest recruits in the state — safety Caleb Downs and running back Judge Hines — chose Tide over the Bulldogs. The tide has also fallen to Peach State for one of two quarterbacks: dual-sport athlete Dylan Lonergan. Lonergan and Louisiana player Eli Holstein will help fill in for Bryce Young next fall, along with former Blue Chip owners Jalen Milroe and Ty Simpson.
Alabama addressed its needs on the secondary and offensive line early in the cycle. Saban and his assistants stayed home for linebacker Jalil Hurley (Florence) and safety Tony Mitchell (Thompson), cementing a poor unit. It also found a potential steal in Mississippi’s Mr. Bryson Hubbard, who is set to move to safety after years of making stars under center. For the trenches, first-place coach Eric Wolford has done what he’s set to do—bring in Wilkin Formby (Northridge), Olaus Allenen (Connecticut), Miles McVay (Illinois) and Rickys McElderry (Aniston). (Although the Tide hasn’t lost many recruits, four-star linebacker Raymond Pulido did lose to Arizona this week.)
As the football season continues, the only area Alabama lacks is recruits on the defensive line, especially after two local players turned down the Tide of Clemson (Peter Woods) and Florida (Kelby Collins). However, the situation was rectified when the tide got the best perk available: the five-star Keon Kelly. With risers Yhonzae Pierre and Jordan Renaud also in the fold, Saban has put together one of the best combinations of sprinters in the country.
players to watch
247 Mathematical Composite Ranking: Five stars, No. 5 overall, No. 1 OT
condition: Committed to Iowa
A signing day address waiting to be written Proctor will be one of Alabama’s biggest flops in recent memory, giving Walford and Saban the 6-foot-7, 330-pound centerpiece through 2023. After committing to the Hokies’ home state in June, Proctor visited Tuscaloosa in weekend. 247 and On3 both expect Proctor to pick the tide.
Rank: Five stars, No. 18 overall, No. 2 DL
Despite his brief stint at IMG Academy (FL) last fall, Smith is half the Iron Bowl recruiting battle to track down this week. He’s an offensive coordinator’s headache at 6-foot-3, 310 pounds with an athleticism that has led to GW Carver-Montgomery giving Smith some handouts this fall. Visited Auburn last weekend.
More recruitment: Alabama and Auburn create an Iron Bowl battle for a pair of homegrown five stars
Rank: Five stars, No. 22 overall, No. 3 edge
With Smith in Florida last year, Russaw has rightfully taken his place as one of the top talents in the state. He recorded 37.5 sacks in his last three carries with Carver. Listed at 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds, Russaw can make an impact on the first day in Tuscaloosa. He is ready to stick to the same program that Smith is committed to. Both are projected to Alabama.
Rank: Five stars, No. 23 overall, No. 2 CB
condition: Reclassified through 2023, Non-compliant
Not often does a game-changing prospect enter the fold too late in the cycle, but that’s just what the IMG star did when he moved up his college schedule. It’s been a rush for programs to get the Ricks on campus and it looks like a three-team race down the stretch between the Tide, Florida, and LSU. He went to every school in December and the Virginia native had a crystal ball prediction linking him to LSU.
Rank: Four stars, No. 54 overall, No. 5 safety
condition: Committed in Alabama since June 26
No one knows what the 6-foot-2, 180-pound state champ Thompson has in store for Wednesday. He has been connected to Alabama, Auburn, and Texas A&M. The Aggies got their final visit this weekend. But in interviews, Mitchell has stayed true to his word. Injuries nearly derailed his senior year, but Mitchell was a good fit for the starter position at Alabama.
Nick Alvarez is a reporter for the Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @employee or email him at NAlvarez@al.com
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