Alabama football: How we will remember the Tide's 2020 recruiting class
With 26 commitments — including 22 who have signed — the Alabama Crimson Tide continues to own recruiting like no other team in the SEC.
A year after finishing with the No. 1 recruiting class, the Tide’s 2020 haul trails only SEC East champion Georgia in the 247Sports.com team rankings heading into Wednesday’s Signing Day.
Here are 4 elements of the Tide’s 2020 recruiting class that we will remember the most …
4. The Bryce Young Era begins
It is impossible to see into the future, of course, but among the things that feel certain is that Alabama is in between transcendent quarterbacks. Mac Jones, for all his imitable traits, feels a bit more like Jake Coker and less like AJ McCarron.
Fortunately, the latest QB savior from the West is already on campus. Bryce Young, a dual-threat 5-star helmsman from Mater Dei HS in Santa Ana, Calif., was a part of the December early-signing class and enrolled at Alabama in January.
At 5-11 and 183 pounds, Young is 2 inches shorter and 35 pounds lighter than Tua Tagovailoa was during his junior season. Young is also right-handed. But those differences aside, Young is a heckuva lot closer to Tagovailoa’s generational skill set.
“Always important to get a really quality quarterback, which we feel really good about Bryce Young,” coach Nick Saban said during Alabama’s Citrus Bowl practices. “I mean, the guy was outstanding as a high school player. Very mature, very smart. Good leader. Played in a great program. Has high expectations for himself, as well as what the team should accomplish.”
Though it is unlikely that a true freshman can seriously push an incumbent junior for the starting spot, it isn’t impossible. More likely, though, Young will wow onlookers in the spring and during fall practice with his athleticism before becoming a valuable 2nd-banana behind Jones.
3. A baker’s dozen already in Tuscaloosa
What began a few years back as a trickle is now a full-on wave, as more than half of Alabama’s early-period signees are already a part of the Crimson Tide program.
Joining Young on campus are 3 other 5-star signees — defensive ends Will Anderson and Chris Braswell and linebacker Drew Sanders — as well as linebackers Demouy Kennedy and Jackson Bratton, running backs Jase McClellan and Roydell Williams, wide receiver Thaiu Jones-Bell and Traeshon Holden, defensive backs Jahquez Robinson and Ronald Williams, and offensive lineman Seth McLaughlin.
Simply put, more time inside the program — eating right, working out with Scott Cochran and the Tide strength and conditioning staff, getting acclimated to the nuances of college life — means a faster maturation process. And that means a leg up on the rest of the recruiting class, many of whom they will be competing against for starting spots down the road.
2. Flipping McClellan from Oklahoma
The addition of 4-star RB Jase McClellan from Oklahoma was actually the 2nd player Alabama has poached from the Sooners during this cycle — joining Sanders as a flip after spending over 2 years as a pledge to Lincoln Riley and Oklahoma.
“Every year they put running backs in the league and get freshmen playing time,” McClellan said of why he could see himself at Alabama. “You’re playing with the best there, getting you developed.”
McClellan rushed for 6,685 yards on 866 carries and scored a startling 124 touchdowns for Aledo (Texas) HS. Credit defensive backs coach Karl Scott and running backs coach Charles Huff for doing the work in luring McClellan away from Oklahoma.
1. Keeping Timothy Smith away from Florida
As is the case every season, just because a player is a solid commitment doesn’t mean they are locked in — at least until the ink is dry. All teams keep recruiting down to the very end, and that was certainly the case with Florida and Timothy Smith.
The 6-4, 320-pound defensive tackle from Sebastian River (Fla.) HS had been pursued by Tide outside linebackers coach Sal Sunseri and defensive coordinator Pete Golding, and was visited by Sunseri and Saban on Dec. 12. Just a day later, though, Smith went on an official visit to Gainesville — throwing his commitment into question.
In the end, though, Smith kept his pledge and put pen to paper for Alabama on Dec. 18. He will arrive on campus as part of at least 9 more signees from the early period.
“For me right now what’s really stuck with me is numbers,” Smith said during an official visit to Tuscaloosa. “I know Florida, they just don’t put up and produce the same numbers that Alabama has. It’s not something they can just change right now. It’s gotta be changed over a period of years. Right now it’s numbers that are holding me.”