If the recruiting services are correct, Nick Saban is the greatest recruiter in the history of college football and Alabama has the greatest assembly of talent ever put together.

That’s not a description of the Tide’s four national titles over the past seven years, that’s what the 2016 team looks like. As scary as it may sound to the rest of the SEC and the nation, the 2016 Alabama team could be the best of all.

Saban recently completed the sixth consecutive recruiting title for Alabama, according to the 247Sports composite team rankings. Since 2008 he’s been able to pull 34 5-star athletes to Alabama.

If you add the three consensus 5-stars and 14 4-stars from this year’s recruiting class, Alabama will start spring training with a total of 19 5-stars and 49 4-stars, or simply put the Tide has a 5-star athlete at nearly every position on the football field – offense and defense. As expected with a Saban-coached team, the defense has been more the focus with 11 5-stars on that side.

The Crimson Tide’s 2015 national championship roster included 18 5-stars. Of those, only two are leaving the program. Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry is one, and stud DL A’Shawn Robinson is the other.

Here are Alabama’s current 5-star athletes by position.


QB (1) – Blake Barnett (2015) was an early enrollee in 2015 and got a head start with spring practice. The 6-5, 200-pounder has all the physical tools to be a good one. He was the MVP of the 2014 Elite 11 Quarterback Competition and led his team to a victory in the 2015 Under Armour All-America Game. He will be in the mix as Alabama searches for a starting quarterback for the 2016 season.

RB (2) – Bo Scarborough (2014) and Damien Harris (2015) are next in line beyond departing backs Henry and Kenyan Drake. Scarborough (6-2, 240) was sidelined by a knee injury at the start of the 2015 season but played in seven games, including three carries for 17 yards in the College Football Playoff semifinal vs. Michigan State.

He totaled 104 yards and a touchdown and along with Harris will attempt to fill some big shoes in 2016. Harris, the top-rated back in the nation out of high school, rushed for 157 yards and returned nine kickoffs for 174 yards.

WR (2) – Robert Foster (2013) and Calvin Ridley (2015) and made impacts in the 2015 season. Ridley stepped into the giant shoes of former Tide WR Amari Cooper and fit nicely into the offensive scheme. He set the school’s freshman single-season record for receiving yards (1,045) and led the team with 89 receptions.

He is a superstar in the making.

Foster started the season well, making 10 catches for 116 yards and two touchdowns over three starts before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury.

OL/TE (3) – O.J. Howard (2013) and Cam Robinson (2014) will be among the leaders next season while newcomer Jonah Williams (2016) looks to make his mark as well.

Howard (6-6, 242) was the Offensive MVP in the National Championship Game, setting a single-game school record for receiving yards (208) by a tight end. It also set the school record for most receiving yardage in a bowl game.

Howard caught five passes and scored two touchdowns — his first of the season.

Robinson (6-6, 326) will lead what should be a very good offensive line. The first team All-SEC performer has become a stalwart at left tackle. Williams (6-5, 296) is a first team Parade All-America out of high school. He’s another tackle who, like Robinson, could make an immediate impact.


DL (3) – Jonathan Allen (2013) is a leader on defense and both Da’Shawn Hand (2014) and Daron Payne (2015) will have their chance to play even more significant roles as well in 2016.

Allen (6-5, 283) led the Tide in tackles for loss (14.5) and sacks (12) in 2015. Sometimes overshadowed by the bigger names on Alabama’s vaunted defense, Allen will find himself squarely in the spotlight next season.

Hand (6-4, 273) recorded 6.5 tackles for loss, including 3 sacks while seeing action in 14 games. Payne (6-2, 315) recorded 13 tackles and saw action in all 15 games. He is expected to make a big impact next season in the middle the Tide defensive front.

LB (4) – Reuben Foster (2013), Rashaan Evans (2014), Ben Davis (2016) and Lyndell Wilson (2016) fill one of the bigger needs in the program.

Foster was second on the team in 2015 with 73 tackles, including 8 for a loss. He will be the leader in a revamped corps that opens the door for the rest of the group.

Evans (6-3, 225) played in 14 games and recorded four tackles for loss. He will enter spring camp with expectations of a more prominent role. Davis (6-3, 240) steps into the shoes of his father, Wayne Davis, Alabama’s all-time leading tackler, while Wilson (6-2, 220) looks to make an early impact as well.

CB (4) — Tony Brown (2014), Marlon Humphrey (2014), Minkah Fitzpatrick (2015) and Kendall Sheffield (2015) comprise an extremely talented group in the Tide secondary.

Fitzpatrick progressed into one of the best defensive backs in the game. A Sporting News Freshman All-America, Fitzpatrick returned two interceptions for touchdowns and also returned a punt for a score. He recorded 45 tackles. Three of those were for loss, including two sacks.

Humphrey played a key role in the Tide’s title season as well. Appearing in all 15 games, he intercepted three passes and totaled 45 tackles (3.5 for loss).

Brown made his mark as a top special teams player, but could move into a more every-down role in 2016 if he can get out of Saban’s doghouse. Sheffield is a redshirt who is being touted as one of the better lock-down corners of the future.