National Signing Day 2021: Alabama set to ink the top-rated college football recruiting class of all time

Alabama on Wednesday is set to formalize the signing of the No. 1 class in a college football recruiting cycle for the ninth time in the last 11 years. The Crimson Tide enter the traditional 2021 National Signing Day with an incredible 325.46 points in the 247Sports Composite, well ahead of Ohio State’s 309.46, which is exceptionally strong in its own right. 

Alabama’s class has 13 of the top 90 players in the country already signed. There are an incredible seven five-star prospects signed or committed. This includes the top two offensive tackles in the nation: JC Latham and Tommy Brockermeyer. The Tide have the No. 2 guard in Terrence Ferguson and the No. 1 center in James Brockermeyer. They also have four of the top 10 wide receivers in JaCorey Brooks, Agiye Hall, Christian Leary and JoJo Earl. Oh, and let’s add a verbal commitment from five-star running back Camar Wheaton, who will be signing his National Letter of Intent on Wednesday.

Defensively, this class is no slouch either. Alabama has the No. 1 cornerback in Ga’Quincy McKinstry and the No. 1 weak-side defensive end in Dallas Turner. It welcomes the No. 3 defensive tackle in Damon Payne as well as the No. 3 and No. 9 linebackers in Deonte Lawson and Kendrick Blackshire, respectively.

Not only is this recruiting class the best in 2021 by a good margin, it is actually the highest-rated of all time as currently comprised. And yet, it might not be done. 

If Wheaton does follow through and sign with the Tide on Wednesday, Alabama will lock in the No. 1 class of all time.

Wheaton, though, is not a lock to commit to Alabama. 247Sports national recruiting analyst Steve Wiltfong says Oklahoma is still very much in the picture, thanks to Wheaton’s relationship with RB coach DeMarco Murray. 

Alabama is also still in the mix for four-star WR Brian Thomas Jr. despite already having signed four elite pass catchers. “The Tide staff has remained in contact with the All-American wideout. LSU and Texas A&M are the other two finalists for Thomas, and appear to be in prime position to add him on Wednesday,” Hank South of Bama Online wrote

Defensive end is a position which will not be closed even on National Signing Day for the Tide as five-star J.T. Tuimoloau will not be deciding for some time as he wants to take visits in the spring. Tuimoloau is the No. 1 overall player in the Top247. Alabama and Ohio State are firmly in the mix, according to 247Sports’ Brandon Huffman

Alabama could also pick up another defensive back in five-star Terrion Arnold. Florida and Georgia are the other top contenders Arnold, but coach Nick Saban is Alabama’s primary recruiter in this battle, making it tough to count the Tide out.

The odds are good that the Tide can either hold on to Wheaton or add one two of the above-mentioned prospects, giving Alabama an excellent shot to land the No. 1 class of all time. If it happens, it will unseat a record which has stood for a decade — eons in recruiting time — the Florida Gators’ Class of 2010.

Assembled by Urban Meyer, one of the best recruiters of all time, and offensive coordinator Steve Addazio, who stood in for Meyer as he took a sabbatical after almost quitting following the 2009 season, the 2010 Florida class had an astounding 324.62 points.

Like Alabama’s 2021 class, it had 13 of the top 90 players in the nation. Two players, defensive end Ronald Powell and defensive tackle Dominique Easley, rated No. 1 at their positions. Four others ranked No. 2 and three others ranked fourth. This was the final class signed by Meyer before his brief retirement. The class did not win titles, but individually, many of the players became long-time starters in the NFL, so it’s fair to say that much of the lack of success was due to culture and coaching during their time there. 

The current No. 2 all-time class is one which will be familiar to college football fans: Alabama’s 2017 haul. Key members of the class included Tua Tagovailoa, Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs III, Devonta Smith, Najee Harris, Alex Leatherwood, Dylan Moses, Jedrick Wills, Xavier McKinney and Mac Jones, just to name a few. This class instantly helped to deliver a national championship in 2017 as true freshmen, and those who stuck around just won another in 2020. 

247Sports’ Chris Hummer argues convincingly that the 2017 Alabama class is the most successful in the history of the recruiting rankings era. 

Whether Alabama pulls it off the No. 1 all-time class on Wednesday is of little matter as, in the grander scope, Saban will be signing his sixth out of the 10 highest-rated classes ever.

Recruiting is never a guarantee of success, but not recruiting at an elite level does practically guarantee that a team won’t win it all. It’s an odds game, and the odds of a class this good not producing at an amazing level are quite small.