Alabama football has much to accomplish in the 2021 recruiting class. Over the last cycles, it is clear competition for elite players is tougher.
For Alabama football and most elite programs, the pandemic has changed everything. It is rare for the Tide coaching staff to accept a player who has not been closely screened, usually requiring strong performance at a Tuscaloosa summer camp.
The next player camps are scheduled for June. It is possible they will take place, with the first scheduled to begin on May 31st. It is also possible the camps will be delayed or not take place at all.
How will Nick Saban and the Alabama football staff adjust? Staying connected with prospects is constrained, but through current technology, regular contact is maintained. Unlike the Crimson Tide, other programs are pushing hard to move forward with commitments from top players. The result is Alabama football recruiting for the 2021 class is lagging behind.
With three verbal commitments in the 2021 class, the Crimson Tide is ranked at No. 47 in the 247Sports Composite. The top five, current 2021 classes are Ohio State, North Carolina, Tennessee, Florida and Clemson. The five schools range from 13 to 17 verbal commits. Among SEC teams the Crimson Tide is No. 10.
Is it time for Alabama football fans to panic? Some already have, especially on Thursday when Jeremy Pruitt latched on to another 5-Star commit, Terrence Lewis.
Two five-stars inside of four days make a serious recruiting buzz. Lewis was the top-rated, outside linebacker prospect on the Tide’s list. Brooks was the top-rated weakside defensive end. Though Lewis is currently rated higher, Brooks was probably the bigger miss. Lewis, currently No. 10 in the nation by 247Sports, dropped all the nation’s elite programs from his list of finalists. He can play as a freshman in Knoxville, rather than having to wait his turn in Tuscaloosa.
Jeremy Pruitt has somewhat turned the Vols recruiting around. To the extent that is a problem for other SEC teams, Georgia and Florida stand to be hurt worst by a Tennessee resurgence.
A good way to assess whether Alabama football’s recruiting has slipped is looking at 5-Stars. Those stars do not ensure success for any player or team. Lower rated recruits regularly have good or better college careers. But programs with fewer elite players are generally less competitive.
Take a look at the 5-Stars signed by SEC schools in the 2018-2020 classes. The Georgia Bulldogs are the big leader with 16, followed by the Alabama Crimson Tide with nine. LSU has signed seven, TAMU, four, followed by Auburn, South Carolina and Tennessee with two each. The Florida Gators have landed one.
Coming off a National Championship, LSU should have a strong 2021 class. Everybody else in the SEC has considerable ground to catch up on LSU, Georgia and Alabama. Outside the SEC, in that same three-year span of recruiting, Clemson has brought in 11, 5-Stars.
Do Nick Saban and his Alabama football staff have some catching up to do? Yes, but that should not worry Crimson Tide fans. There is plenty of time.