Alabama’s 2017 Wide Receiver Class Could Be Best the School’s Ever Signed
Blue chip players and five-star athletes have become the standard for Nick Saban signing classes, but 2017 is shaping up to be one of the deepest and most balanced groups ever signed in Alabama.
While it's another great year at running back and linebacker, the one position that particularly stands out this year is wide receiver. At a school that hasn't traditionally been a huge draw for wideouts, the Crimson Tide's offense has evolved under Saban to feature the passing game nearly as much as the run. Numerous team and individual passing records have been broken over the past ten season, and Alabama has quietly become a destination school for receivers.
We've seen Saban's staff land elite players like Julio Jones, Amari Cooper, Robert Foster and Calvin Ridley, but 2017 could end up producing the best overall receiver class for the Crimson Tide.
Let's take a look at each player and where's he's rated in the 247Sports Composite Rankings:
Jerry Jeudy - No. 21 overall player, No. 3 wide receiver, No. 5 player in Florida
The pipeline to South Florida continues for the Crimson Tide with this smooth and elusive receiver. His coach called him a "once in a lifetime talent" when describing what Jeudy brings to Alabama, and his quickness and route-running might remind you of his former teammate, Amari Cooper.
Devonta Smith - No. 64 overall player, No. 9 wide receiver, No. 2 player in Louisiana
The final player added to the 2017 class, Smith is the second-best WR in the class per the rankings. The Crimson Tide pulled Louisiana's No. 2 recruit right out of LSU's backyard, and he's a guy that could contribute right away. Smith is on the smaller side at 165 pounds, but he's got a great burst and can be a homerun threat for Alabama. He's also rated as a five-star on Scout.
Henry Ruggs III - No. 77 overall player, No. 11 wide receiver, No. 2 player in Alabama
An athlete that excels in both football and basketball, Ruggs was another National Signing Day pickup for the Crimson Tide. The Lee High School standout is ranked second in the state, but you only have to look at 247Sports' evaluation to see how high some analysts are on Ruggs. He's rated as the 24th overall prospect and the No. 1 receiver by that recruiting service. Ruggs led all receivers in the Army All-American Game with 79 yards receiving.
Tyrell Shavers - No. 88 overall player, No. 12 wide receiver, No. 11 player in Texas
Shavers is a rare talent that combines elite size (6-foot-6) with elite speed (4.4). He brings another element to the Alabama passing game and will create mismatches wherever he lines up on the field. If you want to get an idea of his athleticism, watch these highlights of him playing quarterback for his high school team.
Chadarius Townsend - No. 179 overall player, No. 6 athlete, No. 7 player in Alabama
Townsend played quarterback for Tanner High, but he has the potential to play a number of positions at Alabama. He gets compared to ArDarius Stewart because of his playmaking abilities and high school career, which is why he's included on this list. His coach and former Alabama player Laron White called him the "most athletic, explosive, fast kid we've ever had."
As you can see, Alabama brings in more wide receiver depth than you would see in a typical class, but each of them would be a huge pickup for any recruiting class. The only year during the Saban era that you might compare this one to would be 2008.
The 2008 class was led by Julio Jones, who went on to live up to every expectation placed upon him coming out of Foley High. That class also included athlete BJ Scott, Destin Hood, and Melvin Ray. Now all three of those four-star recruits spent little or no time in Tuscaloosa, but it was a loaded class on National Signing Day.
There have been other years with one or two elite receivers, but we haven't ever seen a class that includes four of the top 12 players at their position. Whether or not the class will hold up in four years remains to be seen, but the future of the Crimson Tide offense looks to be bright as ever.