Alabama Football: 2017 recruiting class the Tide’s best ever

Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

With the first round of the NFL Draft behind us, it has become even more clear that the 2017 Alabama Football recruiting class is the Tide and Saban’s best ever.

The true success of a recruiting class cannot be truly measured until their college careers have ended. The stars and rankings out of high school are important, but true success is better measured by wins, championships, accolades, and draft stocks. Considering these aspects, it is clear that the 2017 Alabama Football recruiting class is Saban- and the Tide’s- best ever.

The 2017 recruiting class consisted of names like Tua Tagovailoa, Mac Jones, DeVonta Smith, Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs III,  Alex Leatherwood, Jedrick Wills, Xavier McKinney, and Dylan Moses… to name a few. It was the number one ranked recruiting class at the time and certainly lived up to all the hype.

First, the 2017 recruiting class competed for three national championships and won two during their time with the Tide.  The group won the 2017 season national championship against Georgia in the famous 2nd and 26 throw, carried about by then, two true freshmen from this class- Tua and Smitty.

The following year, the team competed against Clemson for the National Championship. That wasn’t quite the story that 2017 was… The Alabama Football team was blown out by the Tigers 44-16… the fact that this recruiting class only managed 16 points was mind-boggling considering the talent on the field that night.

After an off-year in 2019, the Tide came back for vengeance in 2020 led by a group of returning seniors from the 2017 recruiting class. DeVonta Smith, Najee Harris, Alex Leatherwood, and Dylan Moses all decided to return for their senior year, and their leadership in the hectic covid-season was critical to the Tide’s success. After a perfect regular season, the seniors routed both Notre Dame and Ohio State in the College Football Playoff to win the National Championship.

On top of national titles, this 2017 recruiting class also racked up a lot of impressive personal accolades. The class had three top-five Heisman finalists- Tua Tagovailoa, Mac Jones, and Najee Harris, and one Heisman winner in DeVonta Smith.

It also produced two Biletnikoff award winners in Jerry Jeudy and DeVonta Smith. Tua Tagovailoa and DeVonta Smith also both won the Maxwell Award. Najee Harris won the Doak Walker Award. Alex Leatherwood won the Outland Trophy. Four members of this Alabama Football recruiting class were also named First-team All-Americans.

Lastly, the most important thing to the players, eight guys from the 2017 recruiting class became first-round NFL Draft picks. In the 2019 NLF Draft with Tua Tagovailoa at five, Jedrick Wills at ten, Henry Ruggs III at 12, Jerry Jeudy at 15, the Juniors who decided to leave early certainly made a name for themselves and a huge impact in their rookie seasons.

In the recent first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, Jaylen Waddle was chosen as the sixth overall pick, DeVonta Smith as the tenth, Mac Jones as the 15th, Alex Leatherwood at 17th, and Najee Harris as 24th. Eight first-round draft picks all from the same recruiting class is truly remarkable and certainly the best feat of Saban’s recruiting career.

A Mark in Alabama Football History

As the draft progresses, even more of this touted 2017 class will be joining NFL teams in the next few days. From the championships and awards to the draft picks, this class has made its mark in Alabama Football history.

Next. Waiting paid off for Alex Leatherwood. dark

With this kind of success, it isn’t hard for Saban to attract the top recruits. As we move into the summer, we’ll see if any other recruiting class can live up to the standard set by this great 2017 class.