Feb. 3, 2010
Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban
“I think you guys get it just like everybody else. Is there anybody ever in college football that didn’t have a good recruiting class that they didn’t satisfy their needs and they didn’t get somebody that’s going to make an impact on the team next year? I don’t want you to think I’m being glib in the way that I manage this. We are pleased with the kind of football players that we were able to attract to come to our school this year.
There’s a lot that goes into having a successful recruiting class. I think first of all it starts with your assistant coaches and the job that they do, and this was a long process now, at least probably a year or more, in recruiting guys and getting started on recruiting younger and younger players, which makes it even more difficult on the coaches because you’re trying always to find the younger guy and get started on them earlier, earlier and earlier. It makes it more difficult to probably evaluate players and develop the kind of relationships relative to the rules. I thought our coaches did a tremendous job of identifying players, identifying talent and satisfying some needs that we had relative to some areas where we had a significant amount of graduation, establishing relationships with these guys and their families, but also our players do a fantastic job of hosting these players, developing relationships with them and helping us in recruiting, as our administration does.
Dr. Witt has always participated in our recruiting. Mal Moore always participates in our recruiting. The University community here does as fine a job as any place I’ve ever been or ever coached, in terms of John Dever and the academic people here contributing from an academic standpoint, as well as providing informative academic information about majors and spending their time on weekends to visit with players. That’s always a significant part of what we need to do. I think the whole family and whole team here, including our fans and their support and passion that they show whether it’s in support of the A-Day game, the great support that we get when we’re playing on the road as well as when we play here in Bryant-Denny Stadium – all things that have a significant impact on being able to attract quality people in your organization.
There are two things I always talk about
: how you bring players to your team and how you develop the players once they get to your team. I think we have a pretty good team of people to do that and I’m pleased with the way were able to bring players to our team this particular year.
You guys know that I’m not really much into the ratings and really don’t even know how we are rated, and really don’t much care how we’re rated. Every year I try to come up with some analogy to sort of put in perspective how you should rate recruiting classes. If we went out to buy a hunting dog and it was a puppy, we would buy it based on its potential, its lineage or whatever you want to call it in terms of breeding, and we would know probably when that dog grew up whether it was a good hunting dog or not. We’d never know until we put him out in the field and saw him actually go hunting, but we would buy it without knowing for sure what that result would be.
I think recruiting is not an exact science and really it takes about two years to really evaluate whether you had a good recruiting class or not. If we really want to figure it out, we should be talking about the 2008 recruiting class right now. How good was the 2008 class? Whether it was Julio Jones, Mark Ingram, Marcell Dareus, Mark Barron, or whoever you want, Dont’a Hightower, whoever you want to talk about in that class now has been out on the field and proven to some degree that they’re good players, and there are many other players in that class that are good players. There are some other players that haven’t had an opportunity to contribute but will contribute in the future as well. There is one thing that I always say to players when we recruit them, and a lot of these players make decisions based on whether they can play next year. The fact of the matter is not a whole lot of players actually play when they’re freshmen. Only a few start and some contribute. We certainly had our share contribute here. I think two years ago we had four newcomers starting and 14 players play. Last year we had a significant number of guys that played as well and made an impact on our team, and we always want to give these players and opportunity to play when they’re freshmen. But, are you going to be a better player when you’re a senior in high school than when you were a freshman? I think if you ask that question to any player they would say they’re a much better player than I was when I was a freshman. I think the same thing can happen when they get to college. They’re going to improve each year. They’re going to get bigger, stronger, they’re going to have better knowledge and experience, and they’re going to be able to participate. That’s why I think that the true rating of recruiting class comes somewhere down the road when you look at how many people in that particular class turned out to be the kind of players that we think they might be.
We’re very pleased because we have a unique circumstance in this class where we have 11 players – seven new players, one junior college transfer, three holdovers from a year ago and a transfer from another school – that are all here at mid-semester who are going to be a part of our team. They’re going to be here for spring practice. They’re going to be here for the off-season program, and that’s going to enhance their development. We feel very fortunate that we have quality players here that may impact our team and have given themselves a better chance to impact our team because they’re going to be here a semester early. I think that’s going to enhance their development. Kareem Jackson did that when he was a freshman and he actually started as a freshman. We think that’s a real advantage to this class, one of things that maybe gets overlooked a little bit. I think it’s something that could help our team quite a bit next year.”