This year will be a lot different than in the past when it comes to college recruiting because it will be the first opportunity for high school recruits to ink their commitments early.
Starting on Dec. 20 and running through Dec. 22, a recruit can sign with whichever team he chooses. Following that 72-hour window, any unsigned high school player must wait until signing day in February.
The new structure is certainly uncharted territory and the unknown has caused quite the stir for people wanting to see how it shakes out.
Like usual, the top two teams from the state of Alabama are battling to see who can walk away with the top recruiting class in 2018.
So, who is in the best shape to be leading that battle after the 72-hour window ends on Dec. 22?
A look at Auburn’s recruiting class
Auburn’s success on the field seems to have transitioned off of it, as the Tigers currently have the No. 9 recruiting class (No. 2 in the SEC) according to 247Sports.
The group consists of 18 total commitments — 13 of which are 4-star prospects.
Two of the top three players committed are wide receivers — Matthew Hill (No. 100/No. 20 WR) and Seth Williams (No. 164/No. 35 WR). At 6 feet 2 and 6-3 respectively, both players would provide Auburn with more length at the position.
The most important player in the class could be Asa Martin, a running back out of Decatur, Ala. Martin is about 6-0, 200 pounds — the same size that current starter Kerryon Johnson was when he came out of Madison Academy (Ala.) in 2015.
If Johnson decides to leave for the NFL, Martin could see significant touches early in his career.
A look at Alabama’s recruiting class
Alabama’s 2018 recruiting class isn’t off to the best start, but that could be because the bar has been set so high from past classes. The Crimson Tide has finished with the No. 1 class for seven straight years, after all.
As it stands, Alabama sits just outside the top 10 (No. 11) and has the third-best class in the SEC behind Georgia and Auburn.
The Tide’s prospective class includes several quality prospects, including three in the top 100: Stephon Wynn (No. 73/No. 3 SDE), Quay Walker (No. 74/No. 3 OLB) and OL Emil Ekiyor (No. 93/No. 2 C).
Overall, there are nine 4-star prospects committed to the Tide and three more 3-stars for a total of 12 commitments.
One of the most underrated prospect in the class could be Skyler DeLong, the nation’s No. 1 high school punter according to 247Sports.
Alabama’s current starter (J.K. Scott) has been one of college football’s best punters over the past few years, but he’s a senior. Losing him will be much more significant than most realize, and DeLong’s commitment goes a long way toward alleviating it.
Who has the better class?
Determining which team has the better recruiting class — at least as it sits — isn’t easy because both classes have advantages and disadvantages.
Auburn has more volume — 18 hard commits to 12 — but the Tigers only have one player in the top 100 (Matthew Hill).
Alabama, on the other hand, has three prospects among the top 100 rated high school players in the nation.
Another aspect is positional needs, where Alabama has seemed to do a better job of addressing immediate needs.
For example, again, the top of Auburn’s class consists of two receivers. The problem with that is the Tigers should be returning their top five receivers from this season — Ryan Davis, Darius Slayton, Will Hastings, Eli Stove and Nate Craig-Myers.
That means that — more than likely — the impact from the top of class might not be felt until 2019.
Alabama is losing key players such as starting center Bradley Bozeman and defensive lineman Da’Shawn Hand, who also has experience as a starter. To make up for those losses, guys like Ekiyor and Wynn both could contribute early.
But then again Auburn won’t be dealing with the same number of losses as Alabama, so the Tigers won’t have as many immediate needs. That makes things more difficult to judge.
With both recruiting classes bringing positive boosts to their respective rosters, determining who has the better class would be almost impossible at this stage.
Most recruits will cement their commitment during the early signing period, but plenty will hold out until February — which leaves plenty of room for changes.
Source: Saturday Down South