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Originally published Wednesday, February 5, 2014 at 7:52 PM

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Alabama signs top class again

On signing day, Alabama is still No. 1.


The Associated Press

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On signing day, Alabama is still No. 1.

A season without a national championship on the field didn’t slow down coach Nick Saban on the recruiting trail. The five-star prospects flocked to Tuscaloosa, including one who went to high school at Auburn.

National signing day had coaches up at the crack of dawn and fax machines beeping on college campuses around the country — though more and more recruits email their national letter-of-intent these days.

Hats were donned, a few commitments were flipped and mostly the rich got richer: National champion Florida State, Ohio State, Stanford, Oklahoma and Notre Dame were among the programs that received high marks.

And as usual, most of the Southeastern Conference got glittering grades from the experts. None better than Alabama. The Crimson Tide sat atop the rankings for Rivals, Scout, 247sports and ESPN.

Alabama signed six of 33 players given five-star ratings by Rivals, including Rashaan Evans, a linebacker from Auburn High School who didn’t decide to roll with the Tide until Wednesday, passing on his hometown Tigers.

No other school had more than three five-stars.

“He kind of lapped the field,” Tom Lemming of CBS Sports Network said about Saban.

This marks the third straight year and fifth time in the past six years Alabama has Rivals’ top-ranked class.

Ultimately, the strength of the class will be determined in a few years. Good luck topping the 2009 Alabama class with AJ McCarron, Trent Richardson, Eddie Lacy, D.J. Fluker and Dre Kirkpatrick.

But when it comes to signing-day grades, is Alabama’s latest class Saban’s best yet?

“Yes,” said Mike Farrell, national recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. “They’re competing against themselves, oftentimes.

“This is the highest point total we have ever had at Rivals. They broke the record last year, and this year they broke it again.”

Texas coach Charlie Strong barely had a month to accept his new job, move to Austin and somehow hold together the Longhorns’ 2014 recruiting class after Mack Brown’s sudden departure after 16 years.

Strong did it, keeping together a class recruiting experts rank among the best in the Big 12. Texas signed 23 players to national letters-of-intent, including the big-time quarterback the Longhorns need, and two out-of-state defensive linemen Strong originally tried to lure to Louisville.

Strong spent the past month re-recruiting and “re-selling” Texas to the players who had committed to the Longhorns when Brown was the coach.

Although Texas usually has a top-10 class, this one is considered more like top-20. Strong’s ties to SEC country, which the Longhorns hope will extend their reach in the near future, did help land defensive tackle Poona Ford from Hilton Head, S.C.

Notes

• New Penn State coach James Franklin ended up signing a top-25 class that included five players who had been committed to Vanderbilt when Franklin was there.

• Franklin’s departure crushed Vanderbilt’s class. New Commodores coach Derek Mason did manage to lure one stud recruit, defensive end Nifae Lealao from Sacramento, Calif., to Vandy. Lealalo had wanted to go to Stanford.

D.J. Law, a three-star prospect who could end up at receiver or defensive back, submitted signed letters-of-intent to both Utah and Ole Miss. The schools are trying to sort out how to fix this problem.



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