published Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

Alabama has chance to repeat with No. 1 class

After compiling the nation’s top recruiting class last February, Alabama football coach Nick Saban said, “We, across the board, were able to get good players at every position.”

Saban can cut and paste that comment later this week.

The Crimson Tide could become the first Southeastern Conference team with consecutive No. 1 classes, providing they can capitalize Wednesday on national signing day. Ohio State, LSU, Southern Cal and Texas had higher rated classes as of Monday evening, but nobody is poised for a stronger close than Alabama.

“I have no idea how things are going to fall, but I have a feeling that at the end of the day, LSU and Alabama are going to be the top two,” Rivals.com national editor Jamie Newberg said. “Who’s ahead of the other? It’s hard to say. LSU, Tennessee, Georgia, Florida and Florida State could each make a big splash Wednesday, but Alabama can do more damage than anybody.”

LSU is expected to top Alabama for Rueben Randle (6-foot-3, 195 pounds) of Bastrop, La., the nation’s No. 1 receiver. The Crimson Tide, however, are the team to beat for Gadsden cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (6-2, 180), North Jackson linebacker Tana Patrick (6-3, 215) and Montgomery lineman Brandon Moore (6-5, 313).

Cornerback Greg Reid (5-9, 175) of Valdosta, Ga., will announce tonight among Alabama, Florida State and Georgia, but FSU’s Seminoles are thought to have a slight lead.

Alabama has commitments from D.J. Fluker, the nation’s No. 1 tackle; Trent Richardson, the No. 2 running back; and Nico Johnson, the No. 2 outside linebacker. Kirkpatrick would give the Tide the nation’s No. 1 corner as well.

Since Rivals.com began ranking recruiting classes in 2002, the only school with consecutive No. 1 finishes is Southern Cal. Pete Carroll’s Trojans were tops in ’04 (LB Keith Rivers and WR Dwayne Jarrett), ’05 (QB Mark Sanchez and LB Rey Maualuga) and ’06 (RB C.J. Gable and S Taylor Mays), and they had the No. 2 class in ’07 (RB Joe McKnight and DE Everson Griffen).

“USC is the gorilla on the top of the mountain out West, and nobody is even close,” Newberg said. “In this part of the country, you’ve got five or six gorillas trying to get to the top. It’s a completely different dynamic. Going No. 1 in the country back to back for Alabama would be huge.

“They are laying the groundwork for next year already, so people better get used to it. ”

Alabama secured the top class last year with signing-day announcements by Julio Jones, the nation’s No. 1 receiver, and Jerrell Harris, the No. 3 outside linebacker. That class provided a quick punch, as Jones led the Tide with 924 receiving yards, Mark Ingram had a team-leading 12 rushing touchdowns and linebacker Dont’a Hightower recorded 64 tackles.

Commitment issues

Aubrey Phillips (6-6, 310) of Olive Branch, Miss., is one of the nation’s top 25 tackles, but his recent quote is second to none in terms of the chaos of recruiting.

Phillips committed to Tennessee in late December but told Rivals.com after a weekend visit to Auburn, “I’m still committed to Tennessee, but on signing day there will be a change.”

  • Times Free Press sports columnist Darren Epps and sports editor Jay Greeson on College Signing Day
    Times Free Press sports columnist Darren Epps and sports editor Jay Greeson on College Signing Day
about David Paschall...

David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...

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