February 5, 2009
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Every National Signing Day announcement didn''t go his way, but when the sun had set, University of Alabama football coach Nick Saban had reeled in another top 5 recruiting class.
"It''s a great blend of good athletes, some size players, and some guys who meet a need for us in the future," Saban. "I thought it was really important we get some big players with long arms."
Massive D.J. Fluker, of Foley, Ala., fits that description.
"D.J. (Fluker) is an offensive tackle," Saban said. "He was as fine a defensive player as a sophomore as I''ve seen, and this year, he moved to offensive. He can develop into an outstanding ... left tackle, and that''s the plan for him."
Shortly after 4 p.m., a whirlwind day of activity for the Crimson Tide ended when Pensacola, Fla., running back Trent Richardson committed to Alabama TV.
Richardson had given a verbal commitment to Alabama last summer, but speculation ran rampant Wednesday that he might switch to LSU.
"Trent Richardson is a great player. He will help us," Saban said. "A young player may have the opportunity to contribute at running back. Trent has the ability to do that. Playmakers on offense was a top target."
Earlier in the day, Alabama landed Gadsden City teammates Dre'' Kirkpatrick and Kendall Kelly, a defensive back and wide receiver, respectively.
Alabama also swiped LSU commitment Kenny Bell, a wide receiver from Rayville, La., and received good news from Montgomery, Ala., defensive/offensive lineman Brandon Moore (6-5, 315).
Saban said Moore will begin his Alabama career on defense, but a switch to the offensive line is possible.
Louisiana running back Eddie Lacy also chose Alabama.
"We spent the time and the energy needed to develop the relationships you need to convince a quality player to come to your school," Saban said. "Our fans, and the atmosphere and the environment they create each Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium, contribute enthusiasm
"Our current players, as a whole, did the best job I''ve ever seen on hosting recruits this year."
The class included one quarterback, and Saban explained why.
"We thought A.J. McCarron was an outstanding prospect in our state," Saban said. "Once he committed to us, we felt like somebody needed to be as good or better than him, and he ended up being the only quarterback in our class."
Alabama landed the nation''s top recruiting class according to Rivals.com and Scout.com. Scout.com updated its list after initially listing Alabama as No. 2.
"We''re not concerned with rankings. It''s how you develop players when they get here," Saban said. "We''re going to give them all an opportunity to contribute to the team.
"We only got a couple of defensive backs. If there was an area where we wanted to take another player or two, that would have been it."
Alabama fans were surprised when offensive lineman Bobby Massie chose Ole Miss, but momentum picked up after lunch when Alabama received signatures from Kelly, Kirkpatrick, Bell, and Richardson.
Signees enrolled this semester include running back Jermaine Preyear, offensive linemen Chance Warmack and James Carpenter, and Kerry Murphy, a defensive lineman.
The current Crimson Tide squad is going through offseason workouts in anticipation of the opening of spring practice, which will conclude with the annual A-day game April 18.
1. No. 1 MSU begins preparations for Kentucky COLLEGE SPORTS
2. Alabama shines with looser mind-set COLLEGE SPORTS
3. Ole Miss will rely on defense COLLEGE SPORTS
4. New Hope softball escapes quicksand at Warren Central HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS