Saban Pleased With Signing Class

Even the Alabama fan base got credit for the Crimson Tide's success in football recruiting Wednesday. Bama's head coach addressed the media Wednesday afternoon and said he was pleased with the results.

Alabama Coach Nick Saban reminded that a year ago he had made a commitment to excellence and said that the 2008 Crimson Tide football recruiting class was testament to that commitment. He said he expects the group of 32 signees to be "the cornerstone" of future Bama success on the field.

Saban gave particular credit to his coaching staff for the success. He explained that Bama does a lot of "team recruiting" in which "relationships with the family and the prospect are established." As an example, he said a prospect would be recruited by the recruiting coach (the coach who has an area to recruit), the position coach (the expected position the prospect will play), perhaps the recruiting coordinator, and "always" the head coach.

(Saban said the assistants would be working Thursday on organization for spring practice and some quality control issues from last season, but would get a long weekend break. Saban said the coaches put in more time than can be imagined. The off-season program begins Monday.)

Saban said he was involved in evaluation, but didn't consider himself "the closer" in recruiting. He explained that players select a school for a number of reasons. He gave credit to University President Dr. Robert Witt and his administration, Athletics Director Mal Moore and his staff for the support he gives, the faculty and staff, the current players, members of the academic support staff, training room and strength and conditioning.

Saban noted that 19 prospects came from Alabama and 13 from out-of-state. He said that "it was a good year in-state," and gave credit to the high school programs and coaches. He said that Alabama would expand its relationships with coaches outside the state so the Tide could do more national recruiting and "certainly" be active in the region.

And he gave credit to the fan base that is energized in a positive manner. "I can't tell you how many times I've heard about having 92,000 for the (2007) spring game," he said.

He said many of the players signed Wednesday are good athletes capable of playing more than one position. He said that players would be given an opportunity to first play the positions they would like to play.

There were a few minor surprises on the official list of signees. Demareus Dareus, the brother of signee Marcel Dareus from Birmingham Huffman, was not on the list. Demareus, a defensive end, has long been projected as likely to start his college career in junior college.

Saban was asked about having 32 signees for only 25 spots. Two are known. Wide receiver Chris Jackson and kicking specialist Corey Smith have already enrolled at Alabama and will "back count" to the 2007 recruiting class.

The coach noted that more than a dozen other universities nationwide had signed more than 30 players. He said there is a "plan," and mentioned the possibilities of grayshirts (players who delay entry as fulltime students and athletes for a semester) and academic issues, but said he would not divulge the plan publicly.

He indicated that two high-profile signees who waited until Wednesday to reveal their decisions to attend Alabama – wide receiver Julio Jones of Foley and linebacker Jerrell Harris of Gadsden City – had bonded during the recruiting process and planned to attend Bama together, but said he did not know of that final decision until "today."

He said that Kerry Murphy, who signed with Bama out of Hoover High School in 2007 but had to go to Hargrave Military in Virginia and signed again on Wednesday, still had work to do to be academically eligible.

As for whether he recruited to need, Saban said the first goal was to get the best athletes possible. And, he pointed out, Alabama's needs, at least from a depth standpoint, were everywhere. He said this recruiting class addressed all those needs.

Saban is already at work on next year's recruiting class. He said most of his time in the last 10 days before this week's dead period had been spent visiting with coaches of players who will be senior prospects and in evaluating future prospects.

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