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Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Will Bama overtake Michigan for No. 1?

By Greg Ostendorf

When the updated ESPN 150 and the new ESPN 300 rankings came out Monday, Alabama climbed all the way up to No. 2 in the class rankings. The only school currently standing between them and a third consecutive No. 1 recruiting class is Michigan, the same Michigan program that was dominated by the Crimson Tide last September in the season opener.

Da'Shawn Hand
The battle for the nation's No. 4 player, DE Da'Shawn Hand, could determine who ends up on top of the recruiting rankings.
However, give Brady Hoke and his staff credit. They already have 11 commitments, including nine who are in the ESPN 150. They landed the nation’s No. 2 player, cornerback Jabrill Peppers (Paramus, N.J./Paramus), who was offered a scholarship by Alabama. There’s a reason they have the No. 1 class right now, but will it last?

The UA staff is expected to have considerably more spots available than Michigan in the 2014 class, but sometimes it’s more about the quality than the quantity. While Alabama is addressing lower-profile positions of need, like center and punter, Michigan is grabbing four-stars.

Still, the Tide could be in for a big finish, similar to last year.

Alabama is in good position to land the top two in-state players for 2014, including five-star cornerback Marlon Humphrey (Hoover, Ala./Hoover), but they have been able to recruit on a more national scale this year. When you win back-to-back national championships, you have the luxury to do that.

If all goes well in Lousiana, the Tide could come away with three of the top four players in the state including the nation’s No. 1 offensive tackle Cameron Robinson (West Monroe, Calif./West Monroe) and the nation’s top overall player, running back Leonard Fournette (New Orleans/St. Augustine). Obviously, LSU won’t go down without a fight.

Alabama has also extended its efforts to California. ESPN 150 offensive lineman Viane Talamaivao (Corona, Calif./Centennial) has already committed to the Tide, and Tyler Luatua (La Mirada, Calif./La Mirada) and Damien Mama (Bellflower, Calif./John Bosco) could follow suit.

All in all, it’s going to be difficult for Michigan to keep up with Alabama as we get closer to signing day. If the Wolverines want to keep the No. 1 spot, it’s likely they have to land a signature from five-star defensive end Da'Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge).

Many believe Michigan to be the current favorite for Hand, but the Tide could turn the tables if he decides to visit Tuscaloosa.

Regardless of where the nation’s No. 4 player ends up, the days of Alabama’s 41-14 win over Michigan last year look to be over with the way the Wolverines are recruiting this year. They should be in contention for the new playoff every year if all the talent pans out.

But when it comes to recruiting, the Tide are still in a class of their own right now. Nobody, not even Michigan, is standing in their way.