Alabama football has a successful recruiting pitch every year, but it isn’t always the same. What is the evolution of Nick Saban’s pitch to recruits?
Nick Saban is one of the greatest recruiters in college football history. His recruiting classes with Alabama football have been star-studded for over a decade now. To get so many players to commit to the Tide, get better in college, and have successful NFL careers is an impressive feat. It doesn’t happen easily, though. Nick Saban has had to adapt to make his recruiting pitch work over the Tide dynasty. Let’s look at how his pitch has changed.
Alabama football had to rebuild once Nick Saban came to town. His first recruiting classes reflected that rebuild. He focused on in-state talent and made a promise to them. If they worked their tail off in Tuscaloosa, they would bring the Capstone back to the forefront of college football. This in-state strategy landed players like Mark Barron, Julio Jones, Marcell Dareus, Courtney Upshaw, and Robert Lester.
Once Saban got a couple of star-studded recruiting classes, the program turned around. Consistency was key in the second wave of Crimson Tide players. They wanted to continue off of the tradition that Alabama had started. If you were a running back, you could be the next Mark Ingram. If you were a linebacker, you got to fill in Dont’a Hightower’s footsteps. These were big requests, but the Tide also had great coaching staffs that remained consistent. That’s how Alabama football turned their success into a dynasty.
After it was the standard, you had to offer more to recruits. Other schools were offering an experience since they couldn’t keep up with Alabama’s win total. That’s when the Tide invested a lot of money into locker room renovations. They got to tell recruits that they would win on the field, have fun off of it, and still achieve all of their goals after college.
The rest of Alabama’s evolution has been in response to other schools. The Tide raised the bar, but other universities are finally meeting it. To put it simply, Alabama just responds to every insult a rival can throw at them. If one school says that Saban can’t coach for much longer, Saban will dance in recruits’ houses. They will say that he can’t develop quarterbacks into NFL talents, and Saban turns Tua Tagovailoa into a top-5 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. They say he’s behind the times, and he adapts.
His best adaptation has been getting freshmen on the football field. Smaller schools will offer impatient high schoolers the starting role as soon as they enroll into college. Nick Saban won’t go that far, but he will let you prove that you deserve to be on the field. He’s never kept a player off of the field simply because they were a freshmen. If you can give Alabama football the greatest chance to win, then you will play.
Some things haven’t changed over the years for Alabama football. He can still promise recruits a great shot to win a national championship (every player recruited has won one if they’ve stayed for at least three years), and he is most recruits’ best shot to make it big in the NFL Draft.
With other teams working harder on the recruiting trails, Alabama football has to keep adapting. That might cause some uncertainty in the future, but the Crimson Tide have been strong on the recruiting front for as long as most fans can remember. There is no reason to believe they will waiver now.