|Saban: 'We knew exactly pretty much what we were gonna get. We didn't really have any surprises.' (AP)|
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- National Signing Day came and went at defending champion Alabama with about as much drama as the Crimson Tide's BCS title game performance.
Wednesday was, yawn, just another methodical, dominating performance by Alabama, which captured the mythical national recruiting title. Start printing the T-shirts: 15 national titles!
"This is one of the most exciting feelings ever," said defensive lineman Alphonse Taylor, about being part of the nation's top class. "It feels like Christmas all over again. There's no feeling like it, no feeling like it. You've just got to love the feeling."
Three weeks after pummeling LSU for the BCS national title, the Crimson Tide rolled to a recruiting national title. I'm not sure, but I think they'll be awarded a fax machine made out of crystal.
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Alabama's class was ranked No. 1 in the nation by four of the five major recruiting rankings, including CBSSports.com's MaxPreps.
It was so impressive, that even Landon Collins' mother hugged her son and brushed away tears of joy after he signed with Alabama Wednesday.
Only a month ago, April Justin, Collins' mother, sat next to her son, considered the nation's top safety, when he announced on television he would attend Alabama instead of nearby LSU. Let's just say she didn't approve and the video of her reaction -- a combination of dismay and disgust -- has been viewed nearly a quarter of million times on YouTube.
Justin now appears to have accepted her son's decision, even though two days ago she told the Birmingham News that Saban offered a job to her son's girlfriend, which could be considered an NCAA violation, if true.
"We have a very good relationship with the people around Landon," Saban said Wednesday. "Landon has a great family."
National Signing Day is usually a day filled with suspense, intrigue, twists, turns, decommitments and players "flipping" to a different school. Not at Alabama.
"We knew exactly pretty much what we were gonna get," Saban said. "We didn't really have any surprises."
Four members of Alabama's class committed as juniors in high school and 15 of the Crimson Tide's 26 signees committed before their senior seasons began.
"I was very, very pleased with the players we attracted," Saban said.
Alabama's Signing Day was, to be honest, a snooze fest. However, the fewer surprises that pop up on the first Wednesday in February is a good thing.
There were changes, though. The Crimson Tide did away with their infamous "Fax Cam" from last season that featured a shapely member of the Crimson Cabaret dancer team walking by a live video stream to gather the faxes sent by incoming recruits. Some SEC schools complained last season to SEC commissioner Mike Slive, so Slive put the kibosh on it.
So this year, the Crimson Tide replaced "Fax Cam" with a "Big Board." Alabama fans could literally stare at the board -- and thousands went online to do just that -- waiting for a member of the athletic department staff to walk up and place a placard with a last name of each signed recruit. It was no coincidence Alabama's "Big Board" looked eerily similar to an NFL Draft board.
Actually, Alabama's defense last season looked a lot like an NFL defense as the Crimson Tide became the first program since Oklahoma in 1986 to lead the nation in every major defensive statistical category.
And Saban did his best to assure they won't have much of a drop off in coming seasons, signing five defensive linemen, five linebackers and four defensive backs. Of the overall 26-player class, 15 were named to at least one of various high school All-American teams.
Despite the challenges of the SEC's new oversigning rule, limiting the number of players a school can sign, Saban still managed to attract the nation's top class. "It was much more difficult to hit the [exact] number," Saban said.
Somehow, someway Saban also was able to overcome what he twice mentioned as the "cynical attitude that coaches don't have the best interests of the young men in mind."
On Feb. 1, this recruiting class resembles Alabama's star-studded class in 2008 -- Saban's first at Alabama -- that brought the likes of Mark Ingram, Don't'a Hightower, Julio Jones, Marcel Dareus and Mark Barron to Tuscaloosa. That group was the foundation that led to two national titles in the past three seasons. Can this group have as much success?
"I say this every year, recruiting is not an exact science," Saban said. "No one knows how these players will develop in the future."
True, but this year's class still will be expected to produce similar results. Taylor said that's not added pressure, it's just the reality of playing at Alabama.
"We expect to come in and work hard," Taylor said. "We expect to go in compete and play harder and out-physical anyone. We expect to play Alabama football. It's up to us to live up to those expectations.
"We not only want to win one [national title], we want to be better than the class before us. They won two of three years. If anything, we want to win three [national titles]. We want to be remembered as the 2012 class that went in and won three national championships."
Dillon Lee, a linebacker from Buford, Ga., whose brother Dallas is an offensive lineman at Georgia, also relishes the opportunity ahead.
"I don't think," he said, "they're recruiting anybody to come in and be mediocre."
Certainly not at Alabama.