As BamaMag.com detailed earlier this week, the measure of a top recruit or class upon looking back is two-fold. It can be done based on the rankings, or it can be done based on the name. As we look at the last decade of Alabama recruiting, and specifically at the top prospects in each class, we’ll detail the latest on how it panned out for both the banner signee via Scout as well as the banner signee via the name game.
By Ranking: Defensive Back Chris Keys, who was dismissed from the team after his sophomore season for what UA said was “a violation of team policy.” --MISS
By Name: Running back Glen Coffee, who increased his workload each season, capping his career with a 1,383-yard campaign that included 10 touchdowns over 14 games. The numbers helped him to first-team All-SEC honors and he was drafted in the third round by the San Francisco 49ers the following spring. Most credit Coffee with beginning the recent trend of Alabama running backs.
By Ranking: Offensive tackle Andre Smith, who lived up to the billing as the No. 2 overall player in America. Several Scout colleagues bring him up among the best ever scouted at the left tackle position and he flashed early in his Alabama career, too. He started 38 games as the blindside protector, beginning with his first game on campus. Smith capped his career with consensus All-American honors in 2008, following his junior season. He then entered the NFL Draft, where he was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals in the first round (sixth overall), where he continues to play today as a right tackle. --HIT
By Name: Smith holds both categories for the 2006 class, and it may not be very close.
By Ranking: Defensive end Luther Davis, who saw action all four years and amassed 47 total tackles, including eight for loss. He also was credited with a pass deflection. --MISS
By Name: Linebacker Rolando McClain, though fellow first round NFL Draft pick Kareem Jackson was in the class, too. But McClain is one of the best defenders in Alabama’s history, winning the Butkus Award following his junior season. He started 37 games at UA, capping his career with unanimous first-team All-American honors en route to becoming the eighth overall pick in the 2010 draft. McClain has been in and out of the league ever since, but had a bounce-back season with the Dallas Cowboys in 2014, that may lead to Comeback Player of the Year honors.McClain is one of Nick Saban’s top recruits during his Alabama tenure
By Ranking: Wide receiver Julio Jones, who was the No. 3 player in the class of 2008. Living up to the billing, he was a program record-holder for some time before Amari Cooper arrived on campus. Jones capped his career with a 1,100-yard season in 2010, a junior campaign in which he ended up as a first-team All-SEC selection. Jones was a top-five selection in the NFL Draft soon after, and he’s been a key cog in the Atlanta Falcons offense ever since. --HIT
By Name: In one of the best classes of all-time, and No. 3 in Scout’s look at the best ever, many names are recognizable. In addition to Jones, Mark Ingram, Mark Barron, Dont’a Hightower, Courtney Upshaw, Terrence Cody and many others resonate with the foundation of the recent run of success.
By Ranking: Running back Trent Richardson, the No. 13 overall talent on Scout that year. He became the primary ball carrier after complimenting the Heisman-winning Ingram very well earlier in his career, stepping into the forefront during his junior season. That year, 2011, he led Alabama to a national title and was a Heisman finalist himself, rushing for nearly 1,700 yards and 21 touchdowns. Richardson left after the run, and was selected in the first round by the Cleveland Browns the following April. He's now an Indianapolis Colt. --HIT
By Name: Much like 2008, 2009 was a banner class under Saban, and overall the best in the history of the network. In addition to Richardson, names like Eddie Lacy, AJ McCarron, Chance Warmack, D.J. Fluker, Dre Kirkpatrick, Nico Johnson, Kevin Norwood, Quinton Dial, Ed Stinson and others made the group a tough one for any coaching staff to follow-up. Each of those names were on an NFL roster at some point during the 2014 season after helping the Crimson Tide to multiple national titles.
By Ranking: Defensive back Dee Milliner, who was the No. 16 player in America. The in-state star lived up to it, declaring after a junior season at the Capstone in which he was a consensus All-American selection as well as a finalist for the Bronko Nagurski and Jim Thorpe awards. Milliner was a first round selection by the New York Jets, where he is still employed today. --HIT
By Name: Another deep class in addition to Milliner, with names like Blake Sims, Arie Kouandjio, Jalston Fowler, Jarrick Williams, Austin Shepherd and Brandon Ivory, the marquee name has to be C.J. Mosley. The linebacker led Alabama’s defense during the 2012 national title season and beyond en route to the Butkus Award and back-to-back first-team All-American hnors to close out his career.
Mosley is likely 2014’s NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year
By Ranking: Offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio, the second-ranked player in all the land. Another three-and-out prospect, he helped anchor a dominant line on national title teams in 2012 and 2013, his sophomore and junior campaigns. After the final title, the consensus 2013 All-American entered the draft and was the 44th overall pick by the Buffalo Bills, the team he currently plays for. --HIT
By Name: Defensive back HaHa Clinton-Dix, who was one of the five-stars in Saban’s haul that year. The Floridian made an instant impact at Alabama and became the leader of the secondary soon after. His interception in the 2013 BCS title game helped to put the game away. It also capped a junior season in which he was a consensus first-team All-American selection. Clinton-Dix entered the draft later that spring and was tabbed by the Green Bay Packers with the 21st overall selection.
By Ranking: Defensive back Landon Collins, who just departed for the NFL. Scout’s No. 8 player in the cycle saw considerable playing time on defense and special teams early in his career, before earning a starting role as a junior and leading the secondary during the SEC Championship season and a berth in the inaugural College Football Playoff. In 2014, Collins led the team with more than 100 tackles and three interceptions en route to All-SEC honors. . --HIT
By Name: If Collins isn’t the guy here, too, it’s got to be Amari Cooper. The record-setting Miamian set the school and conference mark with 124 receptions. The grabs accounted for 1,727 yards, second in SEC history and 16 scores. Cooper won the Biletnikoff Award in addition to All-American and All-SEC honors. Two years earlier, he helped Alabama to a national title with 59 receptions for 1,000 yards, breaking program freshman records held by Julio Jones. T.J. Yeldon, Reggie Ragland and Cyrus Jones have all been major contributors as well, and are worth mentioning.Cooper is pegged to be a top pick in May’s NFL Draft
By Ranking: Linebacker Reuben Foster, who had one of the more memorable recruitments in recent history. Back and forth between ‘Bama and Auburn before settling on the Crimson Tide in late January, the No. 2 player in the cycle has seen considerable time on special teams in each of his first two seasons while dealing with multiple head/neck injuries. Foster has seen some time on defense, too, tough he’s best known as a tone-setter on Alabama’s kickoff unit, with several head-turning tackles. --TBD
By Name: Several in the storied class, which signed a record 14 players within the Scout100, have been big-time contributors or have even started for Alabama for the better part of their two seasons on campus. Five-stars A’Shawn Robinson, Jonathan Allen and Derrick Henry have all held up their end of the bargain, with Robinson earning frosh All-America honors, Allen being named to the 2014 AP first-team All-SEC defense and Henry leading UA in rushing as a sophomore with 990 yards. JUCO transfer offensive lineman Leon Brown also started more games than not over his two years on campus.Will Foster turn the corner in 2015?
By Ranking: Offensive tackle Cameron Robinson, who also finished the cycle as the No. 2 overall prospect. The Louisiana native graduated high school early to enroll in the spring and took over as the starting left tackle soon after, becoming Saban’s first true freshman left tackle starter at UA. Robinson started every game, some despite injury, and became a consensus freshman All-American. --HIT
By Name: Robinson was the class headliner and he’s more than lived up to the hype so far, though fellow five-stars Tony Brown, Rashaan Evans and Dominick Jackson have seen a lot of playing time as well. JUCO transfers Jarran Reed and DJPettway are already front-line staples while punter J.K. Scott took over games at times on the way to being a finalist for the Ray Guy Award in addition to consensus All-SEC honors.