Alabama Football: Coach Saban continues to lock down the state


Coach Nick Saban and Alabama football are on a well-documented and historic run of success, both on the field and on the recruiting trail.

Saban has drawn blue chip recruits from all over the country, from New Jersey product Minkah Fitzpatrick to Tua Tagovailoa in Hawai’i.

However, he has made his hay and built this dynasty by capitalizing on in-state talent. Saban has made an annual tradition of locking down the borders and landing the best players in the state of Alabama. By signing James Smith and Qua Russaw in 2023, the Crimson Tide will bring in the top two players in the state for the fourth consecutive cycle.

Coach Saban really made a statement in this most recent class. He landed six of the top-10 players in Alabama in a year in which the state was absolutely loaded with talent.

Smith and Russaw are the headliners, but Bama brought in several more top-100 prospects from within state lines. 4-star Defensive backs Jahlil Hurley and Tony Mitchell are among the top defensive backs in the country, much less the state. Hurley and Mitchell will have ample opportunities to play early, and at the least will supplement a secondary that is graduating several starters.

Yhonzae Pierre is considered the eighth-best player in Alabama, and may be the best pure pass-rusher in the state. Pierre has the chance to be the next in a long lineage of elite edge rushers that have terrorized SEC quarterbacks en route to being selected in the NFL Draft.

Opposite Pierre will be Tuscaloosa product Wilkin Formby, the best offensive lineman in the state. Alabama football fans are excited about the recent flip of 5-star Kadyn Proctor from Iowa, but Formby is no slouch. Rated the no. 8 offensive tackle in the country, he was the gem of Alabama’s offensive line class for months. In my opinion, he has the ceiling and attitude to be at least as good as Proctor. Together, they put Bama in the conversation for the best offensive tackle tandem in the cycle.

The most glaring in-state misses were defensive linemen Peter Woods (Clemson) and Kelby Collins (Florida). While these were surprising losses on the trail, Coach Saban did an excellent job supplementing the position. Landing Smith, the top interior defensive lineman in the state, was huge. Alabama also locked up Hunter Osborne, a high-upside defensive lineman who is rated the 13th best player in the state.

Next. Best Sugar Bowls in Alabama's history. dark

The 2023 recruiting class for Alabama football is one of the best of all time on paper. This group has to prove its worth on the field, but optimism remains high in Tuscaloosa. The Tide were able to land several out-of-state difference-makers including Caleb Downs, Keon Keeley, and Kadyn Proctor. Still, the strength of this group is the wealth of in-state talent.