National Signing Day 2013: Top prospects sign with Alabama and Auburn (photos)
While both Alabama and Auburn missed out on signing some highly-coveted football prospects Wednesday, both teams landed several recruits packed with star power on National Signing Day.
The Crimson Tide started the day ranked by most recruiting services as the top class in the country and head coach Nick Saban cemented his program's top-billing when he landed five-star prospects in linebacker Reuben Foster and tackle A'Shawn Robinson. Saban also received signed letters of intent from two four-star talents in running back Alvin Kamara and defensive tackle Dee Liner.
Kamara, the last of four running backs to sign with Alabama in 2013, nearly fell out of his chair when he announced his decision to sign with the Tide, but was able to catch himself before actually falling to the ground like former coach Mike Shula did during a post-game news conference following the 2006 Cotton Bowl.
Foster sent recruiting junkies on Twitter into a frenzy when a picture of him signing his letter of intent to Alabama wearing Saban-esque attire, which included the coach's popular straw hat, surfaced via the Opelika-Auburn News.
Jason Galloway/Opelika-Auburn News
Many insiders still had their doubts about who the heavily-publicized prospect would actually sign with today despite having committed to the Crimson Tide on Monday night. The pictured erased all doubt and Foster is officially a member of Alabama's 2013 recruiting haul.
Three of the four players signed by Alabama today were once longtime commitments to other schools, with two being committed to rival Auburn for several months before deciding to roll with the Tide. Liner and Foster were both considered locks to sign with the Tigers until Gene Chizik was fired on the Plains causing both guys to reconsider their options, ultimately deciding to ink with Alabama.
Robinson, a giant prospect from Fort Worth, Tx., was committed to his home state Longhorns for several months before signing to play in Tuscaloosa today.
Local phenom ArDarius Stewart, of Fultondale, finally made his commitment to Alabama official after signing his LOI at a ceremony held at his high school. Stewart is considered a four-star athlete and projects to play at either receiver or defensive back at the Capstone.
Despite the uphill battle Auburn and new head coach Gus Malzahn faced in having to develop relationships with current and potential recruiting targets, the Tigers were able to retain the services of five-star defensive end Carl Lawson and lockup five-star defensive tackle Montravius Adams, who was thought to be a heavy lean to Clemson.
"I'd really like to compliment our coaching staff." Malzahn said at his signing day news conference on Wednesday. "They did a wonderful job in a short period of time. A new staff coming in, we had a lot of obstacles as far as trying to develop relationships and a lot of different things."
Malzahn was especially grateful for Lawson keeping his word to play for Auburn despite the coaching turnover.
"He hung in there with us." Malzahn said. "When a lot of guys went south and went other ways, opened [recruiting] up, he hung in there with us and he provided the stability, specifically on the defensive side. to have the class that we did."
Malzahn started the day with a bang when five-star defensive end Elijah Daniel flipped from Ole Miss, a team that finished with a flurry of signings from some of the top prospects in the country. The Indiana-native Daniel surprised the country when he signed his letter of intent to play for Auburn.
Pinson Valley receiver and loyal Auburn commitment Earnest Robinson inked with the Tigers during a signing day ceremony in front of friends and family at his high school. Robinson is rated as a three-star prospect.
The Tigers appear set to finish just outside the top-10 in the team recruiting rankings as they currently sit at No. 11 in both 247Sports and ESPN's list of best classes.