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5 takeaways from Alabama’s first day of Early Signing Period

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — As of late Wednesday afternoon, Alabama football’s 2019 signing class was ranked No. 1 nationally by 247Sports after Day 1 of the NCAA’s Early Signing Period.

Things could change as Alabama is waiting on some paperwork. But head coach Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide’s staff did its work early, inking 22 players from 10 states during the early period. 5-star RB Trey Sanders committed to Alabama on TV, but his paperwork was not sent in as of 5 p.m. Eastern.

During his Wednesday news conference, Saban said the start of the Early Signing Period is becoming the signing day because more and more players are signing letters of intent early rather than waiting for February.

Here are 5 takeaways from Alabama’s class after one day of the Early Signing Period.

Looking ahead

We could get a quarterback battle in a season or two that features Tua Tagovailoa’s little brother and the great-grandson of Paul “Bear” Bryant. Alabama signed two quarterbacks in this class — 4-stars Taulia Tagovailoa and Paul Tyson. Tua Tagovailoa will be back for at least one more year, but anything could happen in 2020. Tyson and the younger Tagovailoa battled at the high school level this year with Taulia getting the better of the matchup. This could be the quarterback battle that breaks Alabama football.

Biggest name

Evan Neal is a name to remember. An elite offensive tackle prospect, Neal has the traits of someone who could step in immediately if Jonah Williams leaves early for the NFL. Neal is rated fifth among offensive tackles and 20th overall in the nation by 247 Sports analysts. Alabama lists him at 6 feet 7, 360 pounds. He’s going to be a machine once Scott Cochran and the strength and nutrition staffs get a hold of him.

Key loss

On Dec. 8, 5-star S Daxton Hill flipped from Michigan to Alabama. Wednesday, Hill signed with Michigan after all. These types of things make you scratch your chin. Hill likely wanted to go to Michigan all along, and the flips were likely to make a bigger splash on signing day. “Michigan flips Alabama commit” looks way sexier in headlines. Before anyone jumps off the deep end, this is all speculation. There’s no way to prove it. But crazier things have happened in recruiting so it’s not hard to believe that a player or a school wanted to draw more attention to the situation.

Filled biggest need from serious standpoint

This one is a tossup between the offensive line and defensive line. Alabama likely will lose multiple players on both sides of the ball as left tackle Jonah Williams and defensive linemen Quinnen Williams and Raekwon Davis could all leave early for the NFL Draft. Alabama will certainly lose seniors Ross Pierschbacher, Lester Cotton and Isaiah Buggs after this season. That’s why it was important for the Crimson Tide’s staff to go after linemen hard in this recruiting this cycle. Alabama signed five offensive linemen and four defensive linemen, with Neal and DE Antonio Alfano headlining the two groups. Don’t be surprised if one or both of those guys is in the mix to start next season.

Filled biggest need from funny standpoint

Alabama wins so much that it’s hard to find anything to make fun of them about. Outside of the kickers, that is. Alabama has Joseph Bulovas on scholarship, but Saban decided he wanted another kicker and brought Will Reichard into the fold. Reichard, of Hoover, Ala., is the nation’s top kicking prospect according to 247. Reichard could see action next season if Bulovas isn’t consistent. Alabama had some serious struggles on extra points this year, so if Reichard can make those, he’ll go down as an Alabama legend.

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