Alabama Football: Power Ranking the Tide's 5 Best Classes of the BCS Era

Marc Torrence@marctorrenceAlabama Lead WriterJanuary 27, 2014

Alabama Football: Power Ranking the Tide's 5 Best Classes of the BCS Era

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    Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

    Nick Saban does a lot of things really well, but recruiting might be what he does best.

    Saban is currently putting the finishing touches on what should be his fourth straight No. 1 class. Every other class he’s had at Alabama, except for the inaugural 2007 class, fell in the top five according to the 247Sports composite rankings.

    Only time will tell how his recent classes will shake out, but even with the immense amount of talent on the roster, Saban has still had early contributors from the past year or two.

    With that in mind, here are the top five Alabama classes of the BCS era. Alabama’s early and mid-2000s were marred by scandal and mediocrity, and combined with the unreal recruiting tear Saban has been on, all of these come from Saban’s time in Tuscaloosa.

    All recruiting information comes courtesy of 247Sports.

5. 2014

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    File this one away into the “potential” category, but the current class, on paper, is the best Saban has ever had.

    The average player rating, according to the 247Sports composite, is a 93.28, and adding a couple of the 5-star recruits still considering the Tide would only increase that number.

    The class includes six players who are considered the top prospect in their state and four who are tops at their positions.

    And if you consider Jacob Coker, the quarterback transfer from Florida State, a part of this “class,” it could be what helps bring Alabama back to the top of the college football world.

4. 2013

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    This one falls into a similar “potential” category, but several players made impacts this season as freshmen and showed that the 2013 class has tons of potential.

    On the defensive line, Jonathan Allen and A’Shawn Robinson turned out to be as good as advertised. Both found themselves in the regular defensive line rotation, and Robinson led the team in sacks, with 5.5.

    Derrick Henry, the second-highest-rated player of the class, only played in mop-up duty for most of the season but exploded in the Sugar Bowl for 100 yards and a score on eight carries and a screen pass that he took 61 yards to the house.

    Tight end O.J. Howard figures to be more in the mix this season after flashing some potential and physical ability. Cornerback Eddie Jackson had an up-and-down year, and offensive lineman Grant Hill got in a couple of games and could be a starter next season.

3. 2012

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    The 2012 class makes the list for a pair of offensive weapons alone.

    Running back T.J. Yeldon and wide receiver Amari Cooper both enjoyed standout freshmen years but felt some growing pains in 2013. Both will be integral parts of Lane Kiffin’s offense in what should be their third and final seasons.

    Five-star safety Landon Collins has lived up to the hype that surrounded his commitment. He was a special teams stud his first two seasons and last year saw playing time at strong safety. JUCO cornerback Deion Belue was a serviceable starter for both of his seasons.

    Running back Kenyan Drake saw No. 2 carries most of this season but struggled with ball security.

    Linebackers Reggie Ragland, Dillon Lee and Ryan Anderson were an uber talented trio and figure to compete for starting jobs in the offseason. Cornerback Geno Smith played the “Star” much of his freshman year and could eventually move to free safety.

2. 2009

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    Simply put: The 2009 class vaulted Alabama into dynasty status and beyond.

    D.J. Fluker, James Carpenter, Chance Warmack and Anthony Steen were all standout starters on the offensive line.

    While Trent Richardson was only considered the No. 2 running back that year behind Bryce Brown, he quickly put those theories to rest, becoming a Heisman runner-up.

    Quarterback AJ McCarron, wide receivers Kevin Norwood and Kenny Bell, and running back Eddie Lacy set the table for the Tide’s offense during its championship runs.

    Linebacker Nico Johnson and defensive linemen Ed Stinson and Quinton Dial were all reliable defensive starters during their time, too.

1. 2008

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    If the 2009 class sent Alabama into a dynasty, the 2008 one laid the foundation. Saban’s first full year of recruiting for the Tide paid big dividends, and many Alabama fans will tell you that on signing day 2008, they knew it was the start of something special.

    The gem of the group was Julio Jones, who lived up to every bit of his potential and is currently enjoying a standout NFL career.

    Linebackers Courtney Upshaw and Dont’a Hightower, safeties Mark Barron and Robert Lester and defensive lineman Damion Square were stalwarts at their positions and all starters on the 2011 defense, considered by some to be the best in Alabama and college football history.

    Defensive lineman Marcell Dareus made the signature play of the 2009 BCS Championship Game.

    And the class included two who have gone down in history as some of the greatest all time at Alabama.

    Mark Ingram became Alabama’s first Heisman Trophy winner in 2009. And Barrett Jones started at three positions on the offensive line and won nearly every individual award imaginable.