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Crimson Tide photos / Running back Najee Harris and quarterback Mac Jones, members of Alabama's 2017 signing class, celebrate a touchdown during the Crimson Tide's win over Florida at the SEC championship game earlier this month.

There is rich.

There is filthy rich, and then there are Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Alabama's 2017 signing class.

When the No. 1 Crimson Tide (11-0) take the field against No. 4 Notre Dame (10-1) in Friday afternoon's Rose Bowl at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, they will do so with four Associated Press first-team All-Americans who signed in 2017 — quarterback Mac Jones, running back Najee Harris, receiver DeVonta Smith and left tackle Alex Leatherwood. It's a talented quartet that has excelled several months after four other 2017 signees — quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, right tackle Jedrick Wills, and receivers Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs — bypassed their senior seasons to become first-round picks in the 2020 NFL draft.

"I feel like we're the greatest of all time, if you ask me," Leatherwood said this week. "We just have a lot of talent, but aside from us all being talented, we're all hard workers who had a common goal to win a national championship and be the best players that we can be. That's why we came here."

Alabama has compiled a sparkling 49-4 record since inking its 2017 class that includes linebackers Christopher Allen and Dylan Moses, defensive linemen Phidarian Mathis and LaBryan Ray, safety Daniel Wright and backup running back Brian Robinson, as well as two more players already in the NFL — New York Giants safety Xavier McKinney and Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Isaiah Buggs.

All four losses have come to Tigers, with Auburn winning the 2017 and 2019 Iron Bowls, Clemson claiming the national championship game of the 2018 season, and LSU handing Alabama's 2017 class its only loss in Bryant-Denny Stadium with last season's 46-41 result that helped catapult Ed Orgeron's Tigers to the national title.

Alabama's 2008 signing class that was headed by receiver Julio Jones, running back Mark Ingram, defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, linebacker Courtney Upshaw and safety Mark Barron is widely praised as the foundation of the Nick Saban era. In the Tide's 2009 class, players such as quarterback AJ McCarron, receiver Kevin Norwood and offensive linemen Chance Warmack and Anthony Steen were able to experience three national championships.

The 2017 class is certainly the first to provide four first-team All-Americans on the heels of producing four NFL first-round picks, but Saban has never been one to rank recruits.

"We just try to take the guys from wherever they are and try to develop them so they can be the best that they can be," Saban said. "There are some guys we have very high hopes for who don't really pan out, and there are other guys who become great players when you really didn't think that they might become great players."

Among the more unlikely standouts of Alabama's 2017 class is Jones, who has completed 250 of 327 passes (76.5%) this season for 3,739 yards with 32 touchdowns and four interceptions. His efficiency rating of 202.3 is on pace to set an NCAA single-season record.

In Alabama's 2017 class of 29 signees, Jones was one of five who failed to attain four- or five-star status, with two of the others specialists — kicker Joseph Bulovas and long snapper Thomas Fletcher.

"I knew they were all special even before we got here because of all the camps and stuff," Jones said. "I had thrown to Smitty, Ruggs and Jeudy at some camps, which was a really cool opportunity. Right now, there are a few guys in the NFL and a few guys who will be in the NFL next year, and it's just really cool to be a part of that class.

"I was the second quarterback, and I learned from Tua, but I've also learned from everybody in that class."

Alabama's 2017 class greatly impacted the national championship game several months later. In the 26-23 overtime topping of Georgia, the Tide rallied with Tagovailoa, Harris, Jeudy, Ruggs, Smith and Leatherwood playing prominent roles down the stretch.

A 41-yard touchdown toss from Tagovailoa to Smith on second-and-26 in overtime delivered Saban a fifth national title with the Tide. Friday's College Football Playoff semifinal could serve as that next-to-last step for a sixth, and a second for the 2017 signees.

"When we won the national championship my freshman year, I looked around and realized we had a lot of great guys in that class," Mathis said. "It was a really big class that we had. After winning that national championship, I was like, 'Wow, we've got Jeudy, Tua, Smitty and all these guys.' I'm just proud to say I'm a part of it."

Said Smith: "A lot of us went to a lot of camps together, so a lot of us knew where others were leaning to. Some of us were already kind of committed here, and it was really everybody just recruiting each other and building a relationship. That's what made us so close."

Contact David Paschall at dpaschall@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6524. Follow him on Twitter @DavidSPaschall.

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