Alabama football recruiting: Flips contribute to Tide's lowest-ranked class since 2007

Even Alabama isn't immune to being on the wrong end of National Signing Day flips. On Wednesday, three players previously committed to the Crimson Tide -- five-star linebacker Quay Walker, defensive tackle Bobby Brown and linebacker/athlete Vernon Jackson -- ended up elsewhere. 

Walker committed Georgia thanks to a hat toss that won't soon be forgotten, Brown switched from the Tide to Texas A&M in one of the early announcements of the day, and Jackson joined the Aggies as well after decommitting from the Tide on Tuesday (his National Letter of Intent is not in TAMU's hand at this time).

As it so happens, 247Sports' Barton Simmons predicted this week that Alabama could lose all three. On top of those, Clemson swiped the top player from the state of Alabama, four-star wide receiver Justyn Ross

While it was expected that Alabama would not finish No. 1 this year, snapping their seven-cycle streak of hauling in the nation's top-ranked class, it was a surprise to see the Tide as low as No. 9 midday. By the time National Signing Day concluded, Alabama checked in at No. 6 nationally, a spot most programs in the nation would kill to be in but one that has the Tide end 2018 with its lowest-ranked class since 2007 (No. 12).

How exactly did this happen?

Simmons explains a confluence of events -- a "perfect storm," if you will -- led to Alabama's finish.

Not only did the Tide suffer a significant staff turnover in losing both of their coordinators, it all went down while one of Nick Saban's disciples in Kirby Smart was putting together a historic recruiting class in Georgia and billing the Bulldogs as the "next Alabama." Ohio State coach Urban Meyer also officially found his footing with some big wins for the Buckeyes, and Texas A&M's addition of Jimbo Fisher took a bite out of some of Saban's planned signings. There was also Florida coach Dan Mullen who earned two recruiting wins over Saban on signing day, including four-star wide receiver Jacob Copeland out of Pensacola, Florida.

These things happen every year to multiple teams across the country, just not usually Alabama.

Even with the Early Signing Period, there were a lot of moving parts leading up to February's signing day. And when we say something is a "surprise," that's usually surface level; rarely does it catch the losing coaching staff completely off guard. There are always other options being pursued.

And that's also not to say the Tide did not have their share of wins Wednesday, notably landing five-star corner Patrick Surtain Jr. in a shocker over LSU, which led for his services for most of the 2018 cycle.

Still, given Alabama's recruiting success -- seven straight No. 1 classes, per 247Sports Composite rankings -- the flips and the Tide's finish were notable.

It would be inaccurate to say Alabama had a "bad" signing day because there's nothing bad about finishing with a top-10 class. That still correlates with recruiting well enough to win a national championship, which is the standard in Tuscaloosa. But as far as signing classes go, this was not the Crimson Tide's best day.

What big-time recruits are headed to your favorite school? Visit 247Sports.com to see how your team's future will be changed forever. Their recruiting analysts are on the ground right now for National Signing Day. Plus, use the code SIGN2018 to get 30 days completely free on any plan they offer!   

CBS Sports Writer

Ben Kercheval joined CBS Sports in 2016 and has been covering college football since 2010. Before CBS, Ben worked at Bleacher Report, UPROXX Sports and NBC Sports. As a long-suffering North Texas graduate,... Full Bio

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