Recruiting rankings are subjective, combining the work of evaluators talking with coaches, tape study and the old-fashioned eye test. Though Nick Saban noted during his signing day press conference that he doesn’t like to put added pressure on high schoolers adapting to the next level, the general consensus is the new crop of talent heading to Tuscaloosa is historic.
Across the board, the Crimson Tide was crowned with the No. 1 class by 247Sports, Rivals and On3, signing 27 players. Auburn, under first-year head coach Hugh Freeze, raced to sign 18 players and was placed as high as 16th overall by one service.
Here’s how recruiting sites graded the Tide and Tigers’ efforts:
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247Sports’ national recruiting analyst Andrew Ivins summed it up well with his “Winners and Losers” post, writing of Alabama: “The Empire Strikes back.” Alabama was also celebrated by Allen Trieu for having some of the best positional hauls of any program nationwide with two elite running backs — Justice Haynes and Richard Young — and five offensive linemen on board, including five-star Kadyn Proctor.
The Tigers were also considered winners, as the flips of defensive lineman Keldric Faulk and cornerback Kayin Lee were big reasons in Auburn climbing nearly 40 spots on the site’s rankings to 20th. Faulk is the lone signee in the 247Sports Composite top 100.
In the SI99, a compilation of top prospects, Alabama led the way with 12 players, one fewer than Texas A&M pulled off in its highest-ever rated 2022 class.
“One could argue Bama began its clinching of the top spot the day before signing day when it flipped top-10 prospect Kadyn Proctor from the local Iowa Hawkeyes, but Nick Saban’s program hit on more key targets anyway Wednesday in landing in-state defensive stars James Smith and Qua Russaw,” Sports Illustrated’s director of recruiting John Garcia Jr. wrote.
Faulk, like in the 247 system, was the lone future Tiger in the SI99. Freeze’s class clocked in at No. 18 with Garcia commending the new staff for having the flips of the day before Oregon and head coach Dan Lanning shocked the system.
“Somehow, the Tigers’ staff is ahead of schedule,” Garcia summarized.
Saban and Freeze were also determined as ‘winners’ of the early signing period by Brandon Huffman. The retention of five-star safety Caleb Downs, who had been pursued by home-state Georgia, was a contributing factor. Huffman recognized the status quo being reaffirmed in Tuscaloosa, writing “All is right with the world.”
Auburn’s junior college work also deserved credit, per Huffman. Izavion Miller entered the day as the No. 4 JUCO tackle in their rankings and can be a day-one impact piece.
“The Auburn program had zero recruiting momentum under Bryan Harsin, but things appear to be changing with Freeze at the helm on the Plains.”
Alabama racked up more players in the ESPN 300 than any other program (22.) It has a chance to get another in five-star cornerback Desmond Ricks, who’s set to announce Thursday. Surprisingly, the Tide outpaced A&M’s 2022 haul with 11 players in the top 28 of ESPN’s rankings, compared to eight for the Aggies.
“Finishing at No. 1 overall, ahead of Georgia, is a statement win for Saban on the recruiting trail,” staff writer Tom VanHaaren wrote.
Auburn checked in at 29th per ESPN’s metrics with five ESPN 300 signees and six players overall (running back Jeremiah Cobb has yet to file his paperwork). Within the Southeastern Conference, the Tigers finished 11th with Lee it’s top-rated commit (No. 184).
Per VanHaaren: “Auburn trails most of the SEC with work to do on the recruiting trail, but new coach Hugh Freeze inherits a solid foundation and has been adding more talent since taking over.”
Nick Alvarez is a reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @nick_a_alvarez or email him at NAlvarez@al.com
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