Recruiting 2010: What to expect

Look for more over-signing, more Memphis nastiness and broader recruiting grounds
Alabama is looking outside the state to fill many of its needs in the recruiting class of 2010. The Crimson Tide aren’t alone in the SEC as the Florida Gators have already offered 56 scholarship players with 14 of them outside the south.

Top programs can afford to take risks. Top programs have broad horizons.

On Alabama’s horizon are places like Georgia and Tennessee. According to Andrew Bone in the Tuscaloosa News, the Tide has offered more than a dozen scholarships to players in Georgia and Tennessee.

If you thought the nastiness in Memphis was over, think again. Alabama has several additional targets in the city, Bone reports. Rivals.com reports the Tide leads for a Memphis linebacker. Bet on things getting uglier there.

Florida’s recruiting can easily be called national. According to the Gainesville Sun, “UF has interest in a couple prospects in Michigan, Ohio and Minnesota. Obviously, there is interest in California and Texas, but Meyer and his coaches have even thrown a few looks at guys in Nevada and Oregon.”

This contrasts with the avowed policy of Auburn recruiting. Auburn head coach Gene Chizik vowed to secure the Tigers’ home base. “You’ve got to have a starting point and a home base, and this state will be it,” Chizik said. “After that, we’ll move outside the state.”

Auburn faces a different set of circumstances. A situation more like what Saban encountered on his arrival at Alabama. It makes strategic sense to secure a base of operations. However, Auburn should be cautious to avoid the temptation to abandon its traditional recruiting zones in Georgia and Florida.

Alabama and Florida have the luxury of cherry picking other states thanks to strong recruiting classes over the last few years, and dominance of their respective recruiting bases.

Nick Saban has a history of looking beyond his home state for recruits. Looking at LSU signees, the 2002 class had signees from Pensacola, Tampa, Miami, Vancouver, B.C., and Valley Forge, Pennsylvania; the 2003 class had signees from Mississppi, Maryland, Florida, Texas and Mobile’s JaMarcus Russell; and Saban’s last class, the 2004 class, had signees from Florida, Mississippi, California, Mobile, and Kansas.

Looking at Alabama’s past signing classes (heavily over-signed the last two years), it is tempting to suggest Alabama would sign fewer players in 2010, perhaps between 19-24 next year. However, if you examine Saban’s history at LSU, Saban’s last three recruiting seasons saw the coach sign 26, 28 and 26.

I wouldn’t bet on anything less than 25 with that history.