When Signing Day 2014 is complete, the newest members of the Alabama Crimson Tide will have a decidedly national flavor. Alabama has no shortage of state pride, however, the 2014 class is anything but home grown. In this modern, fast-paced age of recruiting, Nick Saban and company have reached beyond the borders of the Yellowhammer State and attracted top talent to Tuscaloosa with aplomb.
Of the 25 players currently committed to Alabama, only six reside within the state borders. The Tide has reeled in Da’Shawn Hand, arguably the top player in the country, who hails from Woodbridge, Va. The power-running game of Alabama requires talented offensive linemen and Saban has reached into Iowa, Minnesota, California, Louisiana and Florida for five of the six committed. Included in that haul is offensive tackle Cameron Robinson of West Monroe High School in Louisiana, typically a recruiting stronghold for the LSU Tigers. The Tide has also ventured into Colorado for placekicker J.K. Scott and into Oklahoma for their possible quarterback of the future, David Cornwell. He did not have an offer from Oklahoma, but committed to Alabama early in the process and has not taken any other visits. Saban did not stop there. Ohio, Arkansas, Georgia, Texas and South Carolina are also represented in the 2014 recruiting class.
Since Saban’s arrival, Alabama has trended toward a more national recruiting strategy. His first Signing Day in 2007 saw a class of 24 sign with the Tide and 54 percent were from another state. By the class of 2010, signed after Saban claimed his first National Championship as Alabama’s head coach, the percentage increased to 61 percent. The class of 2013, coming after Saban’s third national title, saw an even further increase in out-of-state talent (72 percent) as players from Utah, New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey decided to spend their college careers in the confines of Bryant-Denny Stadium.
This can be attributed to several factors: Alabama’s return to national prominence, the allure of playing for a proven head coach and the high number of NFL Draft picks from Alabama. Many high school seniors and junior college players do not recall the days of Mike Shula, Mike Price or the Dennis Franchione disaster.
Life is good in Tuscaloosa these days and top recruits all over the nation are clamoring for an offer from Alabama. Judging by the anticipated class of 2014, it appears their call has been answered.
Brad Stephens is a contributing writer for rantsports.com.