For Alabama football closing recruiting strong is as much about numbers as it is reining in a few more elite prospects for the 2020 class.
Numbers are always tight in an Alabama football signing class. At least they have been since Nick Saban restored National Championship glory in Tuscaloosa following the 2009 season. Alabama football received its No. 24 verbal commitment for the 2020 class Wednesday when it became known 4-Star offensive lineman, Javion Cohen had de-committed from Auburn on Sunday, before calling Tide coaches with good news.
Adding Cohen pushed the Alabama football, 2020 recruiting class to No. 1 in the 247Sports Composite. Alabama football fans take pride in No. 1 classes. Nick Saban has had eight of them in Tuscaloosa. Being No. 1 is fun for bragging rights but it is worthwhile to remember, Saban won his first two Crimson Tide national championships with only one No. 1 class in his first four Tide seasons.
The Clemson Tigers, with only 21 verbal commits so far, have the inside track for the final No. 1, 2020 signing class.
With all the hoopla over top classes, it is easy to forget Nick Saban has been recruiting for need since his early years in T-Town. Every recruiting cycle, top and sometimes elite players can’t find space in the Tide’s final numbers. One of many examples is Auburn wide receiver, Seth Williams. His potential was evident but Saban never had the room to push for him.
Watching how the numbers play out each year is almost as much fun as signing a No. 1 class. Except, of course, the 2018 class, when last-minute surprises from a few players left the Tide with just 22 in the signing class.
Never let it be said Nick Saban does not learn from mistakes. The 2019 class also had some late disappointments, but the Tide responded, closed with 27 in the class and finished No. 1 again.
The 2020 class is expected to close at 27 or 28. With the Crimson Tide at 24, does that mean there are only three spots left? The answer is no. The thing about recruiting is numbers are fluid. Right now, 24 does not necessarily mean 24. As many as four current verbal commits may not be in the final class. In most cases, the reason is grades and qualifying academically. Possible blueshirts or grayshirts add another wrinkle.
If just two are lost to grades, plus another spot is freed by a blueshirt, the Tide would be at 21. Even if the final space is 27 and not 28, the Tide would have six more spots to fill.
Who would get the six? Another wide receiver, for sure, unless Smith and Ruggs III return. Adding a tight end, even if not Darnell Washington is essential. A third could be grabbed any day by JUCO All-American, cornerback Ronald Williams. Jordan Burch and Phillip Webb get slots if they want them. A sixth is expected to be held until February for defensive tackle, McKinnley Jackson.
Does anyone doubt Nick Saban has taken full advantage of extra recruiting time this season? There are indications the Tide will finish strong.