Nick Saban's Epic Spring-Game Recruiting Haul Shows Tide Are Alabama's Top Team

Sean Frye@Sean_E_FryeFeatured ColumnistApril 19, 2014

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Anybody who followed both Auburn and Alabama's spring games on Saturday probably thought that the Tigers had the better day. The Crimson Tide's offense looked sluggish, while Nick Marshall and Co. picked up right where they left off from last season's SEC Championship. 

But Nick Saban and the Tide won the much bigger battle on Saturday, and that's the recruiting battle. 

Four prospects committed to Alabama on Saturday, one 5-star and three 4-stars. Meanwhile, Auburn was relegated to just two commitments, one 4-star and one 3-star. 

Alabama 2015 Commitments on April 19
NamePositionHigh SchoolStar RatingComposite RankingPosition Ranking
Leo LewisLBBrookhaven (MS)4685
Calvin RidleyWRMonarch (FL)4413
Minkah FitzpatrickCBSt. Peters Prep (NJ)5304
Shawn Burgess-BeckerATHMonarch (FL)4889
Auburn 2015 Commitments on April 19
NamePositionHigh SchoolStar RatingComposite RankingPosition Ranking
Ben EdwardsSTrinity Christian Academy (FL)428218
Bailey SharpOTSprayberry (GA)334942

Two of the commits for Alabama—Fitzpatrick and Burgess-Becker—are secondary players. After losing Deion Belue and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Saban was in need of some talent in that area. 

Fitzpatrick is the highest-rated commit of the day for the Tide. A 5-star cornerback out of New Jersey, Fitzpatrick stands at 6'0", 185 pounds and runs a 4.45 40-yard dash, per 247Sports.

Auburn's biggest commit of the day was 4-star safety Ben Edwards out of Florida. Edwards, a 6'0" safety, flipped his commitment from Ohio State to Auburn, per Ari Wasserman of 

Rivals recruiting reporter Andrew Bone tweeted that all four Tide commits were recruited by Mario Cristobal, the offensive line coach at Alabama. So certainly it was not a bad day for Cristobal and one that could set the stage for him to move up in the coaching ranks in the near future. 

Cristobal is in just his second season at Alabama, after joining the team in 2013. He was the head coach at FIU from 2007-12 before being fired after a 3-9 season in 2012.  

What Saturday's overhaul ultimately proved, though, is that, when rubber hits the road, more kids want to play for Saban and Alabama than they do Gus Malzahn and Auburn, despite the Tigers being just one year removed from an SEC title and a national championship appearance. 

While Auburn is fresh off a 2013 campaign that saw them win the SEC title, it was Alabama that had won three of the last four national championships prior to 2013. And had it not been for that one missed field goal that Chris Davis took back in the Iron Bowl, the Crimson Tide could've made it four national titles in five years. 

Alabama also sends plenty more players to the NFL. According to ESPN, the Crimson Tide have 37 of their alumni in the NFL, while Auburn has 20. 

The Tide now rank No. 1 in the country for the 2015 class with 14 commits, with 12 being either 4-star- or 5-star-caliber. Meanwhile, Auburn ranks 10th in the nation with just eight total commitments to its 2015 class. That load includes three 3-stars. 

The Crimson Tide also ranked No. 1 in all its recruiting classes dating back to 2011. Auburn's highest ranking in that time frame was fifth in 2011. The Tigers also ranked sixth in 2014 and 2010. 

Minkah Fitzpatrick
Minkah FitzpatrickCredit: 247Sports

Fitzpatrick told Rivals (subscription required) that it was the aura and reputation of Alabama that enticed him to commit. 

I really liked the environment. People say it's an extremely serious environment, but you get to have time to relax and hang out with everybody. The football experience is one of a kind, there's nothing really like it in the country.

It's one of the best universities ever, one of the best coaches ever to coach the game and I feel like I can learn from him and become one of the best players in the country and the best player I can be.

For Alabama to have made such a statement on the recruiting trail Saturday is huge. Auburn walked away with just two commitments, while Alabama landed four huge pieces that will set the stage for them for years to come. 

And Saturday proved that, while Auburn had the better year on the field in 2013, the Crimson Tide are still top dog in the Southland. 


Note: All recruit rankings courtesy of 247Sports unless otherwise noted.