News from the Tennessee Valley Sports

In short time, Saban recruits solid class for UA

By Josh Cooper · 340-2460

TUSCALOOSA — After only five weeks on the job, Alabama football coach Nick Saban landed a solid, nationally ranked recruiting class.

The Crimson Tide signed 24 players from as far west as Texas to as far east as Florida. In the process, the Tide grabbed a few last-minute recruits to nail down its national ranking — 10th by National Blue Chips, 14th by and 20th by

"We're going to recruit everywhere there is football players," Saban said. "Any place around here that has good football players we're going to recruit them."

The three players who unexpectedly signed with the Tide on Wednesday were Brandon Gibson, Marquis Maze and R.A. Hubbard graduate Michael Ricks. Ricks signed to play with the Tide out of high school but went to Northeast Mississippi Community College instead and has spent the past two years there.

Gibson is a wide receiver from UMS-Wright in Mobile. Maze is listed as an "athlete" from Tarrant.

Gibson, Maze and Ricks play into Saban's philosophy of recruiting large quantities of players.

"In recruiting, it's numbers," Saban said. "The stronger board you have recruiting positionally, the better chance you have to be effective later on."

In terms of needs, Saban said that Alabama filled some important ones on defense, particularly on the line.

The Tide signed Josh Chapman and Kerry Murphy, both defensive tackles, both taller than 6-foot-0 and both hovering around the 300-pound mark. Alabama also took Athens High product Alfred McCullough, a 6-3, 300-pound defensive tackle.

Saban's staff signed four linebackers, four defensive backs and two defensive ends.

"The class satisfies our needs," Saban said. "We got some size on defense up front. We targeted that as an area of need. We were also able to attract other good football players."

Saban also said that the team needed to sign at least one quarterback, which he did in Nick Fanuzzi of San Antonio, Texas.

He signed three players who could slide into the running back role.

He declined to comment on how players would fit into his team next year and where current players would play.

"I'm not into evaluations," Saban said. "When we get a chance to evaluate and work with these guys, we'll see what that is."

Trying to shed light on his seemingly controversial nature, Saban responded to his Jan. 3 off-the-record comments to three Florida reporters that were leaked two weeks later to a South Florida radio station. The comments included a slur of people of Cajun ethnicity.

Saban said that as far as he knew, his comments had caused no problems in recruiting and he was treated well wherever he visited.

"We want to do things the right way and in a first class way," Saban said.

Alabama did lose one of its recruits Wednesday.

Elliott McGaskin who had committed publicly to the Tide, signed to play for Jones Community College in Mississippi. According to Rivals, Alabama will honor its offer to McGaskin as long as he makes his test scores.

Alabama’s five to watch

  • Rolando McClain, LB, Decatur:Ranked by Rivals as the 35th best prospect in the country and No. 1 in the state.

  • Kerry Murphy, DT, Hoover:Ranked No. 56 in the nation and second in the state.

  • Brandon Gibson,WR, UMS-Wright in Mobile:No. 100 on the Rivals national list and fifth in the state.

  • Alex Watkins, DE, Haywood in Brownsville, Tenn.:Placed third on the Rivals state list for Tennessee.

  • Michael Ricks, DB, R.A. Hubbard:Played at Northeast Community College in Booneville, Miss., and was ranked the fourth best junior college prospect in the nation.

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