Alabama finished with the nation’s No. 5 recruiting class last year, ending a seven-year run on top of the recruiting world according to 247Sports.com’s composite ratings.

But the Crimson Tide has returned to form with its 2019 class that’s ranked No. 1 midway through the Early Signing Period.

So what caused that brief slip in recruiting last year? Perhaps the best explanation is that the Class of 2018 was the first to feature an Early Signing Period, which Saban doesn’t seem to be a huge fan of due to the way it shifts recruiting tactics.

Yet Alabama seems to have adjusted in a hurry, and Saban explained what he and his staff did differently this time around when it came to inking prospects in December.

“I think we figured out that you need to get ahead on more players, that more and more players are going to make this their signing date,” Saban said during his Wednesday press conference. “So you’ve got to start the process earlier, you’ve got to get more players in here earlier, you’ve got to develop relationships with them. So I think that’s what we did a little better.

“I think last year, we sort of tried to save more spots for guys that didn’t sign early. And then with all the coaching turnover we had, we lost a lot of relationships with those guys, and I think it hurt us in the end. This year we were probably a little more aggressive.”

It’s no surprise to see a master coach like Saban quickly transition to the new recruiting cycle, which he said he’s all for “if it’s better for the players.” But he still made sure to note that he believes Early Signing Day has becomeĀ theĀ Signing Day, something he foresaw when the changes were announced.

Saban said his 2019 class isn’t finished, but his quick adjustment to the Early Signing Period has Alabama back on top in recruiting right now.