Cover Photo Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
The dynasty is not over yet. Alabama just scored its 6th consecutive No. 1 class in the country on National Signing Day yesterday. Coach Nick Saban pulled off what might be the greatest down-to-the-wire recruiting flurry in recent history. Before recruits told the world where they would continue their career in ways such as skydiving or simply picking the hat of their chosen school, Saban’s Crimson Tide ranked No. 7 according to 24/7 Sports. Eight elite recruits joined Alabama’s on National Signing Day, which vaulted the team to No. 1 in 24/7 Sports’ national rankings. All of these players could have chosen to attend other Power 5 schools and started immediately. Yet, so many still come to Alabama and wait a few years to start because Saban is so adept at developing talent. Fourteen members of the Crimson Tide have been selected in the first round of the NFL Draft since 2009, and many have been selected to the Pro Bowl.
Alabama’s dominance is indicative of a recent trend in college football. More and more players are choosing to sit on the bench and redshirt their freshmen seasons to play at blue-blood programs. Blake Barnett was the 2nd best pro-style quarterback of last year’s class and chose to take a redshirt at Alabama instead of starting immediately at almost any other school in the country. Outside of the Yellowhammer State, Ohio State’s Justin Hilliard (pictured, Credit Jim Davidson) also elected to take a redshirt for his freshman season. He was the 2nd best outside linebacker in the Class of 2015, but like Barnett, chose to wait at least a year to play at his chosen school.
Another Buckeye, running back Mike Weber, was the 9th best in the country at his position. Florida State quarterback Deondre Francois was ranked just behind Barnett as the 3rd best pro-style quarterback last year. Mississippi State’s Leo Lewis ranked as the best inside linebacker prospect, and Tennessee’s Drew Richmond was pegged as the 3rd best offensive tackle. Southern Cal’s John Houston Jr. was a top-50 player and the 6th best outside linebacker. All of them joined Barnett and Hilliard in taking redshirts this past season. Now, this talented bunch heads into the 2016 season with four years of eligibility and the chance to make an impact on their respective teams. All it took was waiting a year.