For the third time in six years, the annual college football recruiting crown has been won by the Alabama Crimson Tide. Coach Nick Saban completed his sterling class Wednesday on the traditional National Signing Day, clinching the top spot on the 247Sports team rankings for the Crimson Tide with a class totaling 327.68 points.
Alabama’s class features a record-breaking nine players ranked as five-star prospects, according to 247Sports, including EDGE Keon Keeley (No. 3 overall), offensive lineman Kadyn Proctor (No. 5 overall) and safety Caleb Downs (No. 8 overall). In total, 11 of the top 100 players in the country either will be headed to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, or they are already on campus.
The stellar class is ranked third all time in the 247Sports team rankings behind only last year’s class at Texas A&M (328.59) and Alabama’s 2021 class (327.76). Indeed, the top three recruiting classes all time have been signed over the last three cycles.
Keeley (6-foot-5, 242 pounds), a prospect from Berkeley Preparatory School in Tampa, Florida, committed to Alabama on Dec. 12 and signed with the Tide nine days later. Andrew Ivins, director of scouting for 247Sports, raved about his potential.
“Already pretty muscular and well-developed in the upper half, but should only continue to fill out over the next few years and has a chance to add 25 pounds or so,” Ivins wrote. “The type of pass rusher that has shown that he can attack the corner with both speed and power. “
Downs (5-foot-11, 197 pounds), a prospect from Mill Creek High School in Hoschton, Georgia, was named the MaxPreps National Player of the Year and Georgia Gatorade Player of the Year following the 2022 season.
“First of all, he’s a great person,” Saban said in December. “A really smart football player. Football means a lot to him. And the guy’s a great competitor, loves to compete. Their team won the state championship. He was all into that. Could have gone anywhere he wanted to go and wanted to stay with the team that he played with the whole time, and they won the state championship in Georgia, which is a significant accomplishment. I just think he’s the right kind of person. He’s got leadership qualities that are hard to come by, and the guy’s really got a lot of talent physically to be able to develop into something special.”
Saban will be looking for a new quarterback in 2023 following the departure of Bryce Young, and four-star early enrollee Eli Holstein could have a shot at winning the job. The 6-foot-4, 222-pounder from Zachary High School in Louisiana is ranked No. 148 overall in the class. He threw 52 touchdowns over the last two seasons and scored 23 more on the ground. Gabe Brooks, national scouting analyst for 247Sports, provided this scouting report on Holstein.
“Effective in the short-to-intermediate passing game thanks to plus velocity,” Brooks wrote. “Shows window-fitting ability in those situations. Typically accurate and consistent to those levels. Improved runner as a junior with noticeably better functional athleticism as a scrambler. Not a dancer in a play-extending sense, but climbs the pocket very well and shows some straight-line burst when deciding to tuck and run. Athletic enough to keep defenses honest and get a designed run here and there.”
Just how good is this class? Every high school player that Saban signed during this cycle is either a five- or four-star prospect except one: three-star Conor Talty, the second-ranked kicker in the country.