Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Tide notches top football recruiting class

It was a rollercoaster signing day for the University of Alabama, as the Crimson Tide turned in another stellar recruiting class. The 2011 class currently stands at 23 players and is rated as the top class in the country by Rivals and third by ESPNU.

“There is a lot that goes into a recruiting class,” head coach Nick Saban said. “There are a lot of people here at the University that do a fantastic job of helping us recruit.”

The Tide’s day started off with a surprising commitment by Jeoffrey Pagan, who many assumed was headed to the University of Georgia. The Tide continued its success later in the morning, stealing away Auburn commit Brent Calloway. The four-star linebacker/running back was a former Tide commitment before switching to Auburn, but he ultimately wound up back at Alabama.

Momentum would switch, however, when the Tide lost out on No. 1-ranked offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio to rival Auburn. Though the Tide was able to land talented junior college tackle Aaron Douglas, Saban said he would have liked to sign more true tackles in this recruiting class.

“There were actually three guys today that we felt all could be really good players at that position, and we ended up in second place all three times,” Saban said. “Maybe.”

The “maybe” in Saban’s statement may allude to perhaps one of the biggest recruitment dramas in recent memory. Though Kouandjio went on live TV and announced his commitment to Auburn, he has yet to sign his letter of intent, leaving many wondering if the five-star tackle might change his mind and switch schools.

Along with the possible switch from Kouandjio, the Tide is still in the running for the nation’s top player, Jadeveon Clowney. The 6-foot-6, 270-pound defensive end has delayed his announcement until Feb. 14. Teams in the running for Clowney include Alabama, South Carolina and Clemson.

Much of the Tide’s success happened before signing day, however, as the Tide was able to sign three five-star athletes — Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix, Trey DePriest and Demetrius Hart.

Headlining the group is Clinton-Dix, who is ranked as the nation’s seventh-best player by Rivals and 19th by ESPNU. “Ha-ha,” as he is called by his teammates, is known both for his skills on the field as well as his leadership ability. After signing early with the Tide, “Ha-ha” played a vital role in helping with the recruitment of other players.

“Ha-ha was a guy that was a top guy at his position,” Saban said. “He committed early and never ever once wavered. He always knew what he wanted to do and was anxious to try to help us recruit the best players we could get.”

Of the 23 commits the Tide already has, nine already enrolled at the University. One of those commits is former Western Arizona Community College standout Jesse Williams. The native of Brisbane, Australia, has come a long way from home to play for the Tide and is still getting used to life in the South.

“Culture-wise, there are a lot of differences,” Williams said. “I definitely experience a little southern hospitality. Everyone is a little nicer down here.”

With a No. 1 finish in the Rivals recruiting rankings, the Tide has four straight top five classes and has won the recruiting title three out of the last four years.

Two surprises:

Brent Calloway, RB/LB

Rivals’ ranking: No. 38 overall

Signed with: Alabama

The story: A former Alabama commit changed his commitment to Auburn before signing day, but Alabama was the decision he announced Wednesday.

Jeoffrey Pagan, DE

Rivals’ ranking: No. 42 overall

Signed with: Alabama

The story: Many people thought Pagan was a Georgia lean before he signed himself over to the Tide.

Two disappointments:

Cyrus Kouandjio, OT

Rivals’ ranking: No. 3 overall

Signed with: Announced Auburn, yet to sign

The story: Although Kouandjio has not sent in his letter of intent to Auburn, it seems unlikely he would change at this point.

Isaiah Crowell, RB

Rivals’ rankings: No. 23 overall

Signed with: Georgia

The story: Many believe the Columbus, Ga., native is the best running back in this class, but he decided to stay in state over playing for the Tide.

Rivals top 5 classes:

  1. Alabama
  2. USC
  3. Auburn
  4. Florida State
  5. Texas

ESPN top 5 classes:

  1. Florida State
  2. Auburn
  3. Alabama
  4. USC
  5. Texas
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