Saban and Alabama clean up on signing day, while Pryor decides not to decide Print
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Thursday, 07 February 2008 03:45
 When signing day ended, Alabama was No. 1, Miami and Notre Dame had eased the pain left behind by woeful 2007 seasons and Terrelle Pryor was still trying to make up his mind.
Fans of Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and Oregon were left to wait - anxiously, no doubt, and indefinitely - for Pryor, the nation's top unsigned recruit, to decide where he'll play college football.
There's no such angst among Crimson Tide fans these days, not after coach Nick Saban landed a bevy of in-state blue chippers. The first Alabama recruiting class the $4 million-per-year coach can truly call his own couldn't have turned out much better.
The Crimson Tide's class was ranked No. 1 by most of the recruiting analysts Wednesday, the first day of the national signing period.
``They just took over the state of Alabama,'' said Allen Wallace of Superprep magazine and
fans are hoping this year's stellar recruiting class is a sign Saban is starting to reclaim the state from coach Tommy Tuberville and the Tigers.
``They completely clobbered Auburn,'' said analyst Tom Lemming from CSTV.
Alabama's class was strong heading into signing day and then got even better when Julio Jones, a wide receiver from Foley considered one of the best players in the nation, and linebacker Jerrell Harris from Gadsden decided to stay close to home and join the Crimson Tide.
``We have a significant number of needs because we lack depth on our team almost at every position,'' Saban said. ``We were able to across the board attract some good players at just about every position.''
Despite coming off losing seasons, Notre Dame and Miami - along with the usual suspects: Florida, Georgia, Oklahoma and Southern California - also came away with the highly ranked classes.
``It's a statement about tradition,'' Wallace said.
Pryor broke with tradition and decided to put off his big decision. The ballyhooed high school quarterback from Western Pennsylvania, who has been compared to Vince Young, had Ohio State and Michigan at the top of his list but now wants to give Oregon and Penn State a better look.
Rarely does a major recruit not sign on the first day.
ng a no-news conference at Jeannette High School that must have left Ohio State coach Jim Tressel and new Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez exasperated.
For Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis, signing day went much better than the 2007 season, when the most storied program in college football finished 3-9. Still, Weis was able to lure some of the best prospects in the country to South Bend, Ind.
``It's still Notre Dame,'' said recruiting analyst Bobby Burton of, which had Alabama's class No. 1 and Notre Dame's No. 2. ``At the same time when a team is 3-9, highly ranked kids see an opportunity to play right away.''
The Fighting Irish class includes a five-star prospect at quarterback (Dayne Crist from Sherman Oaks, Calif.), wide receiver (Michael Floyd from St.Paul, Minn.) and tight end (Kyle Rudolph from Cincinnati) and plenty of defensive line help.
``I think our program needed this boost,'' Weis said. ``I think this is a significant boost - the right type of players, the right type of kids and the right type of day. This is the type of day where everyone has to feel good, saying, 'What a good day.'''
There were few good days for Randy Shannon in his first season as Miami coach. The Hurricanes went 5-7 and, like Notre Dame, suffered several embarrassingly lopsided losses.
This recruiting class provides the promise of better times for the Hurricanes. Miami came away with quite a haul, much of it from the fertile South Florida area that has stocked past Miami championship teams.
``Randy Shannon has been a dynamic recruiter as a head coach,'' Burton said.
Prized defensive tackle Marcus Forston was one of eight players the Hurricanes signed from powerhouse Northwestern High School in Miami.
``This class is the foundation that we're building on, a foundation that's preparing us for the next step of what we're trying to get done at the University of Miami,'' Shannon said.
Even without Pryor, Ohio State (No. 8), which also had a relatively small class of 19 signees, and Michigan (No. 9) had classes ranked in the top 10 by
Pryor has until April 1 to make up his mind.
AP Sports Writers Tom Coyne in South Bend, Ind., John Zenor in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and Tim Reynolds in Miami contributed to this report.

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