Staying one step ahead of the competition is how Nick Saban has turned Alabama into the most powerful recruiting force in college football today. With 19 commitments sewn up for a 2015 class—which at this point is universally ranked as the No. 1 class in the nation—Saban is once again keeping an eye on the future, as he’s already begun to build up his 2016 class.
Just a week ago, Alabama had zero commitments for 2016. However, that changed when DT Benito Jones became the first rising junior to officially pledge his services to the Tide.
The 6’2’’, 260-pound 4-star prospect from Wayne County High School in Waynesboro, Mississippi is currently ranked as the 98th best overall prospect in the 2016 class by 247Sports. Recruiting Analyst Barton Simmons had this to say about the talented young tackle.
“I had a chance to see Jones in person earlier this spring and his hand-quickness, strength and ability to play with quickness and leverage were among the best I’ve seen out of the 2016 class.”
Jones got the ball rolling for the 2016 class. Now, it looks like that ball is about to pick up a whole bunch of steam. On the heels of the news that Jones had committed, Shyheim Carter and Demetrius Robertson added even more substance to the Tide’s 2016 class by declaring their commitments as well.
Carter is a highly touted 4-star CB from Kentwood, Louisiana, who is ranked as the No. 5 cornerback and the No. 43 overall prospect in the class by 247Sports. He chose Alabama over offers from Clemson, Georgia, Mississippi State and Texas A&M.
NOLA.com’s James Smith had a glowing evaluation of the Louisiana native, who he ranked as the No. 10 overall prospect in his “Fantastic 40 for 2016.”
“Carter is one of the most versatile prospects in this year’s class. Most prospects who play a bunch of positions can do a little bit of everything, but aren’t capable of doing anything that well, while Carter brings about some technique at multiple positions. He has tremendous speed, lateral quickness and will likely play at more than 200 pounds at the next level due to his thick build. Free safety may ultimately be his best position, but he is extremely dangerous as a running back, as well. If he can stay lean and not bulk up too much, he has the attributes needed to play cornerback. “
While Jones and Carter are both huge pickups, Demetris Robertson may be the most talented, and the most intriguing of three three commits. Ranked as the No. 1 athlete and the No. 39 overall prospect in the 2016 class by 247Sports, the 6’1’’, 165-pound Robertson is a special athlete, who has the skills to excel on either side of the ball at the collegiate level—as either a receiver or a defensive back.
Last season, the 4-star prospect totaled 36 catches for 556 yards, rushed for 178 yards, scored seven touchdowns and totaled 90 tackles at Savannah Country Day High School in Savannah, Georgia. Alabama was one of the many high-profile programs who recognized his talents early in the evaluation process. Robertson also had offers from schools such as Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Georgia, LSU, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Texas A&M and UCLA
Rivals’ Mike Farrell recently praised Robertson and compared him to Maryland’s explosive wide out Stefon Diggs.
“He’s extremely sudden, extremely fast kid down-field. Gets separation, catches the ball. Reminds me a little of Stefon Diggs, and that’s a compliment I pay to not too many wide receivers. Good route-runner. Athletic kid too. Could play defense. But I think this kid is just extremely underrated by everybody. I think he’s going to be an absolute superstar in the class of 2016”
So Who’s Next?
They say three’s a crowd, but in this case, the three commitments for Alabama’s 2016 class are just simply a starting point. The way Nick Saban operates, there should soon be even more commitments to follow.
The commitments of Jones, Carter and Robertson are a great way to start things off. But you have to believe that the Tide coaches would love to reel in some even bigger fish (i.e. 5-star blue-chip prospects).
5-star QB Jacob Eason made a recent trip to Tuscaloosa.
Alabama is also hotly pursuing other elite talents from the 2016 class such as DT Rashan Gary (Scotch Plains-Fanwood HS, New Jersey), DE Shavar Manuel (Blake HS, Florida), LB Lyndell Wilson (Carver HS, Alabama), DE Deontay Anderson (Manvel HS, Texas) and RB Kareem Walker (DePaul Catholic HS, New Jersey).
In a time when other programs are focusing their attention on putting together the best 2015 recruiting class they can, the constantly-strategizing Saban has once again begun to make sure that he’s one step ahead of his competitors.
The Tide are a proven powerhouse when it comes to recruiting, and it doesn’t look like that’s going to change anytime soon.