Nick Saban has Alabama’s Crimson Tide on such a roll that he can pretty much cherry pick the top recruits from any state he chooses. This past February that meant grabbing eight kids from the state of Georgia as he built yet another top-ranked signing class.
As we’ve pointed out many times before, the state of Georgia produces more SEC signees each year than any other state. The fact that only three FBS-level programs exist within the state — Georgia, Georgia Tech and upstart Georgia State — means many of the Peach State’s top athletes will cross state borders and play elsewhere. Schools across the SEC know this and every program from Missouri to Kentucky to Tennessee to Vanderbilt to South Carolina to Auburn try to raid the state. But Alabama’s having more success than others.
Asked why by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Saban joked, “Well, I still have a home in Georgia,” referring to his palace on Lake Burton. Then he said this:
“I think we work hard in recruiting and try to have a good program. We try to help the kids in our program be successful personally, academically, and athletically. There are a lot of good football players over here in Georgia.
We want to do a good job in a five-hour radius of Tuscaloosa. Atlanta is the great city with the great population, and has a lot of football players in it. There’s good high school football in this state and good academics, too. It has worked out well for us.”
Two of Alabama’s 11 current commitments for the class of 2013 come from Georgia. In addition to the eight Georgia natives he signed last year, Saban inked two in 2011, five in 2010 and five in 2009. That’s 20 Georgia signees in the last four years with more on the way.
The Peach State cranks out prospects, as we noted above. Alabama is thriving and is also nearby. But also playing a possible role in Bama’s success recruiting Georgia kids — Saban’s decision to open the 2008 and 2009 seasons in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in Atlanta. In case you didn’t know it, the Tide is already lined up to open its 2013 and 2014 seasons back in downtown Atlanta, too, against Virginia Tech and an opponent to be determined.
Saban knows what he’s doing when it comes to taking his program across the Georgia state line for its season-opening games.