Saban dominates recruiting, but here are 8 elite recruits who said 'No' to Alabama
Alabama’s dominance on the field may be surpassed only by its excellence on the recruiting trail. The Tide are well on their way toward landing their seventh straight No. 1 recruiting class.
Rarely does Alabama not land one of its top targets, but some highly touted prospects have turned down Nick Saban in the past.
Here are eight top recruits who refused to join the Tide.
Keenan Allen (Class of 2010, No. 1 safety): Allen was the one that got away for Alabama. Although he was listed as a safety coming out of high school, the Crimson Tide envisioned him becoming another star receiver opposite Julio Jones.
Allen was committed to Alabama leading up to signing day, but had one stipulation. His half-brother Zach Maynard was transferring from Buffalo, and Allen wanted the quarterback to join him at Alabama. Saban wasn’t prepared or willing to give Maynard a scholarship, so Allen decommitted on the week of National Signing Day and ended up at Cal. Now an NFL receiver, he has had four injury-plagued seasons with the Chargers.
Jadaveon Clowney (Class of 2011, No. 1 overall): Saban had visions of Clowney, the nation’s top prospect and a generational defensive end talent, playing in Tuscaloosa. Unfortunately, the 5-star recruit didn’t feel the same way.
In a detailed account of his recruitment by Fox Sports, Clowney explained his surprising feelings about Saban.
“I don’t see no big deal like everybody else,” he said later. “They’d say, ‘He’s the king of all of football.’ The guy ain’t nothing but 5-5. He’s a short guy. Everybody’s going crazy on Nick Saban.
“Nick Saban’s going to take over and talk,” Clowney said. “He talked the whole time he was there. I was dozing off. He can talk. A lot. He talked for a whole straight hour.”
Clowney decided to stay in-state and join the Gamecocks, and he became one of college football’s top defensive players. He is now with the Houston Texans.
— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) January 16, 2017
Isaiah Crowell (Class of 2011, No. 1 RB): The nation’s top running back coming out of high school, Crowell was coveted by nearly every major program. In-state Georgia appeared to have a leg up on the competition, but Saban can never be counted out.
Crowell made several visits to Alabama during his recruitment, and he spoke very highly of the program and several of the Tide’s players. At his announcement ceremony, however, Crowell held up a bulldog puppy to let the world know he was staying home. He is now the featured back for the Cleveland Browns.
Jameis Winston (Class of 2012, No. 1 QB): Winston is one of the few in-state prospects that didn’t end up at Alabama or Auburn. The No. 1 recruit in the state of Alabama for the 2012 Class, Winston skipped town and pledged to Florida State.
Alabama and Saban recruited Winston fervently, but the star quarterback wanted to write his own legacy. On Aug. 3, 2011, Winston announced his commitment to the Seminoles, choosing the Florida State hat over the ones that read Alabama and LSU.
The 5-star quarterback became a star at Florida State. As a redshirt freshman, Winston won the Heisman Trophy and led the Seminoles to a national championship victory against Auburn. He was taken with the first pick in the 2015 NFL Draft by Tampa Bay.
Jordan Jenkins (Class of 2012, No. 5 WDE): Saban and Alabama have expanded their recruiting pipeline to many bordering states, Georgia included. In 2012, Jenkins was the No. 2 prospect in the state of Georgia, but that didn’t stop Alabama from making a run at the defensive end.
Both Saban and Kirby Smart visited with Jenkins in person at his high school, but the 5-star prospect didn’t even recognize Saban upon seeing him for the first time. That proved to be a sign of things to come, as Jenkins signed with the Bulldogs and became one of their star defenders. He is now an outside linebacker for the New York Jets.
Kwon Alexander (Class of 2012, No. 7 OLB): Alexander was exactly the type of linebacker Saban wanted for his defense. In a defense known for its size, Alexander’s speed would have been a welcome addition for the Crimson Tide.
Instead of staying in state and pledging with Alabama or Auburn, as many expected, Alexander signed a letter of intent to play at rival LSU. The athletic linebacker went on to have a standout career on some talented LSU teams and is now one of the NFL’s budding defensive stars with Tampa Bay.
Laremy Tunsil (Class of 2013, No. 1 OT): Another prospect who appeared to be torn between Alabama and Georgia, Tunsil’s recruitment seemed to take several turns leading up to signing day.
It truly seemed to be anyone’s guess where Tunsil would choose to spend his college years, but Alabama’s pedigree for developing offensive linemen was a strong lure. The 5-star lineman surprised everybody, however, when he chose Ole Miss over both the Tide and the Bulldogs.
He went to the Miami Dolphins with the 13th overall pick in last year’s NFL Draft.
Terry Godwin (Class of 2015, No. 1 ATH): Despite his commitment to Georgia, the Crimson Tide weren’t going to let Godwin go without a fight.
One of the top receivers in his class, Godwin was a priority for the coaching staff and Alabama’s commits during his official visit to Tuscaloosa. Alabama stayed on Godwin all the way up until National Signing Day, but the 5-star prospect opted to stick with his commitment and sign with the Bulldogs.
All recruiting rankings courtesy of 247Sports Composite