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Sports Illustrated
Sports Illustrated
John Garcia Jr.

Georgia, Miami, Texas Pushing Alabama for Top 2023 Recruiting Class

It seems like every time there is a college football championship to be had without Alabama in it, the sport knows Nick Saban has reinforcements on the way. 

Such is the case down the final stretch of the class of 2023 recruiting cycle, where Alabama has long had a stronghold on the SI All-American No. 1-ranked recruiting class. Many programs have shaken and shifted beyond the Crimson Tide and despite momentum for many—most notably Miami—it would be a slight upset if any other program would catch Saban's on the trail when the dust settles on Wednesday's defacto National Signing Day. 

(Wednesday is actually the first day of the early signing period in the sport, but more than 80% of the available talent pool is again expected to officially come off the board by day's end).

So who has a shot at the theoretical throne a day ahead of the carnage?


Verbal commitments: 24

SI99 recruits: 9

Key targets to watch: OT Kadyn Proctor, IDL James Smith, LB Qua Russaw, CB Damari Brown, CB Desmond Ricks (Thursday), S Tyler Scott

Saban’s Tide has rolled on the recruiting trail throughout the cycle and it is in position to hold onto most of the pledges despite pushes from Georgia and Ohio State for No. 1 safety Caleb Downs and elite running back Justice Haynes. Now it has a chance to add to the top haul, with three more SI99 recruits among those high on Alabama heading into decision day. Offensive lineman Kadyn Proctor, a longtime Iowa commitment, took an official visit to UA over the weekend and plenty of buzz has followed. The other top-level recruits on the board reside within state lines in Montgomery (Ala.) Carver High School duo James Smith and Qua Russaw. Auburn has made the push for each interesting of late under new coach Hugh Freeze, but it hasn’t been enough to alter the expectations of each to ink crimson when all is said and done. Ironically, the biggest Bama need may be for a cover corner, so there will be special attention to Damari Brown and Desmond Ricks’ picks, though each has tangible buzz elsewhere (Miami for Brown, LSU for Ricks). 

Alabama has momentum in its flip attempt of Iowa commitment Kadyn Proctor

John Garcia, Jr.


Verbal commitments: 25

SI99 recruits: 8

Key targets to watch: CB Damari Brown, S Conrad Hussey, DB Edwin Joseph, WR Brandon Inniss, LB Stanquon Clark

The Hurricanes are the hottest recruiting program in the country this month, closing on several top targets since Thanksgiving. That list includes SI99 pass rusher Rueben Bain and No. 1 offensive tackle recruit Samson Okunlola, among several others. Mario Cristobal’s first full class in Coral Gables has a strong national feel along with considerable local talent—a critical need area for the program relative to the last regime. The latter will likely be added upon by end of day Wednesday, as all the top remaining Miami targets reside in local Dade or Broward County. Brown’s older brother Davonte committed to Miami via the transfer portal Monday, Hussey used his last visit for Miami over the weekend despite a Penn State commitment and Innis and Clark are longtime flip targets currently on board with Ohio State and Louisville, respectively. UM landing even half of the remaining top targets would be considered a win, though the current class is strong enough to run away with the top group in the ACC on its own. 


Verbal commitments: 23

SI99 recruits: 8

Key targets to watch: DE Damon Wilson, CB Daniel Harris, RB Kyron Jones, WR Cayden Lee, WR DeAndre Moore, IDL Jordan Hall (Thursday)

The defending champs often close well, and the 2023 cycle has been no different, winning out for SI99 pass rusher Sam M’Pemba and flipping UCF offensive line commitment Jamal Meriweather already in December. The end of the cycle affords more opportunity for wins, particularly on defense with Wilson, Harris and Hall all heading into decisions with strong Georgia buzz attached to their name. The same can be said for Jones from the moment he backed off of his N.C. State commitment Monday afternoon. Georgia already flipped one running back in the cycle in Roderick Robinson, who was once on board with UCLA. Anyone else’s case for No. 1 would depend on an Alabama slip of sorts, but Georgia’s case could be the best based on the likelihood of hitting on the targets with their hat on the table this week. 


Verbal commitments: 21

SI99 recruits: 9

Key targets to watch: TE Duce Robinson, WR DeAndre Moore, WR Ja'Kobi Lane, WR Jelani McDonald, S Tyler Scott, IDL Justin Benton, DE Tausili Akana

As one could tell by the names expected to consider Texas this week, UT has the most room to add to its class from a volume standpoint. Robinson could be skipping the early signing period altogether, but the rest of the key targets listed should be in the books by Wednesday evening. Moore is the likeliest pass-catcher to join the class despite his long-term commitment to Louisville, though UT would love to add Robinson and/or Lane in particular after hosting each on late-season visits. Each defender still on the board comes with a host of suitors among the competition, though there is a sense that if Texas has pushed for Benton he could ink burnt orange Wednesday despite a longstanding West Virginia commitment.

Ohio State 

Verbal commitments: 20

SI99 recruits: 7

Key targets to watch: DE Matayo Uiagalelei, DE Damon Wilson, DE Joshua Mickens, S Caleb Downs

While the Buckeyes will bring in a great group regardless of the final ranking, its shot for the No. 1 slot will have to see Alabama miss on top targets while OSU simultaneously hits on nearly all of its targets. While the program has recruited at an elite level for most of the cycle, including addressing a big need in flipping Washington quarterback commitment Lincoln Kienholtz after losing its longtime pledge, it’s not likely the trio still on the board picks the Big Ten program among their finalists. Uiagalelei has USC and Oregon high on his list while Wilson is a coin-flip between OSU and the aforementioned UGA. Downs is a longtime Alabama commitment, and as one source put it to SI regarding his commitment on Monday afternoon, “he just doesn’t seem like he’s budging” from Saban at the last minute. 

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