When it was crunch time, Alabama coach Nick Saban pulled out the Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer and pounded his way to his second consecutive Rivals.com recruiting national championship.
The Crimson Tide were crowned the nation's best again after finishing with a remarkable run in Saban's third recruiting class in Tuscaloosa. The Tide closed with running back Eddie Lacy, offensive lineman Brandon Moore, linebacker Tana Patrick and wide receivers Kenny Bell and Kendall Kelly on Wednesday.
Alabama secured the title when five-star running back Trent Richardson signed his letter of intent with the Crimson Tide late Wednesday afternoon.
There are several uncommitted players who could cause some shifts in the top 10, but nobody has enough left on the board to knock the Tide from the top.
Though the late flurry was enough to push Alabama to the No. 1 spot, it was the Tide's early commitments that laid the foundation.
When he committed Nov. 11, 2007, nobody imagined how important D.J. Fluker would be. Nobody knew Fluker was going to eventually rank as the No. 1 offensive tackle and the No. 3 player overall in the nation.
"I love the school and everything they bring to the table," Fluker said shortly after committing. "It's a great situation for me from a player standpoint because I love the way the coaches teach and communicate with their players. I know they can help me become a better player and they are building something special. I feel very comfortable around the coaching staff and players."
April and May were good months for the Tide. That's when commitments came in from three-star lineman Kellen Williams, Darius McKeller and Chance Warmack. Alabama also added four-star quarterback AJ McCarron, who had strong showings at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and the EA Sports Elite 11.
"Last year, when they pulled in the nation's No. 1, class it made a huge impression on me," McCarron said when he committed. "All the top players in the state wanted to play for Alabama, and that made me and the other top juniors take notice. Coach Saban does a great job recruiting."
Those recruits helped set the table for the Tide to make their run in the days leading up to National Signing Day.
The Tide were able to sign three-star linebacker Petey Smith and four-star defensive end Ed Stinson out of Florida, and the floodgates opened Wednesday when Alabama reeled in Lacy, Moore, Patrick, Bell and Kelly.
Disappointing no more
OK, we were wrong.
After being tabbed as one of the disappointing teams by Rivals.com just a week ago after hovering in the 40s in the national rankings, Ole Miss closed as strong as any school in the nation. The Rebels received 10 commitments in the past four days and finished No. 17 in the nation.
"I wanted to play for a coach that could help me become the best in the nation," Cotton said Wednesday after picking the Rebels. "I'm going to come in and work hard to be prepared so when my number is called, I'll be ready. I believe the SEC Championship Game and a berth in a BCS bowl game will become an annual event, and I am really excited and honored to be a part of that."
Big movers on NSD
• It has been said many times that nobody closes like Florida State coach Bobby Bowden, and he again proved he's one of the best in the nation when it's crunch time. The Seminoles skyrocketed up the charts to the No. 6 spot with late commitments from Dan Hicks, Aubrey Phillips, Greg Reid and Will Secord.
• UCLA has been one of the top 25 teams for a while now and the Bruins moved up the charts with a nice NSD effort that saw them land surprises signings from Rivals100 offensive lineman Xavier Su'a Filo and four-star athlete Damien Thigpen.
• Auburn and Tennessee also made significant moves up the charts in the final days. The Vols moved up to No. 23 and Auburn – based on a few NSD shockers, such as signing wide receiver DeAngelo Benton, a longtime LSU commitment – jumped all the way to No. 18.