Alabama failed in its bid to win a third consecutive Bowl Championship Series national title, but the Crimson Tide keeps finishing No. 1 in recruiting.
Alabama's recruiting class is ranked by just about every scouting service and publication as the best in Division I-A. But what else is new? It is the fourth year in a row Alabama's class was ranked No. 1 by Rivals.com.
Mike Farrell, recruiting analyst and scout for Rivals.com, said Alabama and coach Nick Saban are on one of the greatest recruiting runs in college football.
"They have the No. 1 class, by far," Farrell said.
Alabama signed 27 players and eight of them are already enrolled at the school for the spring semester. The Crimson Tide signed six prospects who were rated as five-star players by Rivals. No other school signed more than three five-star players.
Alabama also signed eight players who were ranked among the top 50 by ESPN Recruiting Nation.
"They're not selling early playing time for kids," Farrell said of Alabama. "There is not a lot of that to be had. They have to be selling something else."
Alabama signed Da'Shawn Hand, a defensive end from Woodbridge, Va., who is ranked as the No. 1 player by Rivals. The Crimson Tide also got two of the best cornerbacks in the country in Tony Brown of Beaumont, Texas, and Marlon Humphrey of Hoover, Ala. Cameron Robinson of West Monroe, La., is ranked as the No. 1 offensive lineman by ESPN.
Tom Luginbill, recruiting analyst for ESPN, said "Without question you could argue that not only is this the best class Nick Saban has signed since he has been at Alabama, but it may be one of the best classes of offensive line personnel, regardless of program and regardless of year."
It's not like Alabama is building great classes with home-grown players, either. Only eight recruits in this class come from Alabama. Overall, the class includes players from 15 states, a group that includes Colorado, Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio, California and Virginia among others.
"They're not wasting their time with a bunch of guys from California or other states," Farrell said. "They focus on certain guys and guys they want, and they just go and pluck them."
Elsewhere, LSU finished strong and the Tigers' class is ranked No. 2 by most services. Coach Les Miles landed Leonard Fournette, a running back from New Orleans who is ranked the No. 1 player by ESPN.
Florida State took advantage of its national title to land a top-five class. Among other schools that landed strong classes were Ohio State, Florida and Texas A&M.
Farrell and other analysts believe Kentucky was one of the biggest surprises in recruiting this year. Rivals ranks Kentucky's class No. 17. This is reputed to be possibly Kentucky's best class. The class includes 10 players from Ohio.
"Tennessee was a surprise, too, because I think there were some questions whether [coach] Butch Jones could recruit at a high level," Farrell said. "And I think Florida was a surprise, too, because Will Muschamp is on the hot seat."
For more on high school sports, go to Varsity Blog at www.post-gazette.com/varsityblog. Mike White: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-1975 and Twitter @mwhiteburgh.