Race to the Top: Alabama

Landon Collins

Texas held the top spot in the national recruiting rankings for several months until Alabama passed the Longhorns after All-American games. The race for No. 1 will come down to the wire with top players still In the mix for both schools.

By the numbers

Alabama currently holds the top spot in the Scout.com National Team Rankings which includes six National 100 commitments with three five-stars. Alabama has 13 four-star recruits committed in the class. Overall the Tide's average star rating is 3.70. Alabama has 25 high school players committed in this class, and two junior college transfers. The Tide can have backcounters to last year's class with 22 signed in 2011.

Class strengths

The University of Alabama is built on defense. The Tide's 2011 unit will go down as one of the best ever to step on the field. The linebacker and secondary unit for the Crimson Tide is exceptional. The only reason Alabama isn't ranked No. 1 (currently ranked No. 3) at the linebacker position is due to a couple of the linebackers are rated as defensive ends. Alabama's linebackers are usually the size of defensive ends at other schools.

Alabama commitment Reggie Ragland is the best in the country at his position. Alabama has four other Scout 300 recruits destined to play linebacker in Tuscaloosa. Ryan Anderson (6-3, 250), Dillon Lee (6-4, 240), Denzel Devall (6-2, 240) and Tyler Hayes (6-3, 220). These guys are big, physical and can run. Devall draws comparisons to Dont'a Hightower while Anderson has a lot of the same similarities as Courtney Upshaw.

Behind the Alabama linebacking crop is an impressive a group of secondary players led by the nation's No. 8 overall prospect Landon Collins who announced his commitment to the Tide at the Under Armour All-America game. Alabama also brings in two junior college All-Americans in Travell Dixon and Deion Belue at cornerback. Both will have a great opportunity to contribute right away with the expected losses to the NFL. Alabama also has a commitment from Geno Smith who ranks as the No. 8 cornerback in the country. Eddie Williams is rated the No. 3 safety in the country and a National 100 recruit. He expects to play offense for the Crimson Tide as a receiver.

Class weaknesses

The one area possibly considered a weakness is the offensive line. Brandon Greene is an outstanding prospect. Brandon Hill is a mammoth player who still has work to do in the classroom and taking a couple of visits. Caleb Gulledge is rated as an offensive tackle, but he expects to begin his career on the defensive front. Alabama is still seeking another top offensive tackle in this class.

Targets remaining

A solid group of prospects remain as real possibilities including five-stars Jameis Winston, Eddie Goldman and Avery Young. Jordan Jenkins announcing his commitment to his home-state school may push the coaching staff to make a run at Dalvin Tomlinson or Korren Kirven. Kirven is scheduled to take an official visit to Alabama next week.

Kwon Alexander tore his ACL during the regular season. He has taken official visits to Auburn, Florida State and LSU. He has yet to decide on an official visit to Alabama. His recruitment is still one watch. Dorial Greene-Beckham has supposedly eliminated Alabama from his final list of schools from a report out of Missouri.

Case for No. 1

Nick Saban has built a powerhouse program at Alabama and should remain a national title contender with the players he continues to add to the roster. The 2008 recruiting class was among the best ever. That class, even without Julio Jones, Mark Ingram and Marcel Dareus who left early for the NFL draft, has two national championships while at the University of Alabama.

The class of 2012 has a lot of the same talent. The overall defensive unit is very strong and should keep the Tide in contention as long as they are in Tuscaloosa. The offensive side of the ball includes T.J. Yeldon who is the best running back recruit to come out of Alabama in a while.

Alabama isn't finished with this class. A couple of more five-stars are good possibilities which should maintain the No. 1 recruiting class in the country.

Nick Saban does a tremendous job of developing talent. He already has the talent in this year's recruiting class to hold up more than one crystal ball before they graduate or depart for the NFL.

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