TUSCALOOSA, Alabama – Alabama pulled in one of the school’s best recruiting classes in 2008, and the group still is affecting the team as it aims for a third national title in four years.
When asked about the class today, Tide coach Nick Saban took the opportunity for a small shot at a rule change shortly after he signed that class. Popularly known as the “Saban rule,” head football coaches aren’t allowed to go to high schools in the spring to evaluate players.
“I was still allowed to go out on the road, so I got to see most of those guys practice,” Saban said. “Probably the best recruiting class I’ve ever been associated with or been a part of assembling. The evaluation was good and the development of the players was really good. There were a lot of good people in that class. Obviously, the amount of success they’ve had certainly indicates the competitive character they have, the kind of people they have as well as their ability.”
Alabama signed five eventual NFL first-round draft choices (receiver Julio Jones, safety Mark Barron, defensive lineman Marcell Dareus, linebacker Dont’a Hightower and running back Mark Ingram), two second-round choices (linebacker Courtney Upshaw and noseguard Terrence Cody) and a seventh-round pick (H-back Brad Smelley).
Also, safety Robert Lester, defensive end Damion Square and tight end Michael Williams still are with the team and are three-year starters. Offensive lineman Barrett Jones is a four-year starter and likely will go within the first three rounds of the NFL draft, according to ESPN draft analysts.