Throughout the course of college football history, we have seen historic recruiting classes. In the Recruiting Rewind series, we will visit some historic recruiting classes since 2010. First up is 2017 Alabama. The Tide took home the top spot in the 2017 recruiting rankings and had many players win multiple awards and championships and become first-round draft picks. Today by ranking, we will look at the top five players in the 2017 Alabama recruiting cycle.
1. Tua Tagovialoa
Tua Tagovialoa starts part two. The Hawaiian QB ranked 32nd in the 2017 class and 1st at the QB spot. Tua saw the field sporadically in his freshman season as he backed up Jalen Hurts. In the national championship, Tua got his chance to shine. Down by 13 at halftime, Coach Nick Saban turned to the young QB in hopes of an amazing comeback. Tua entered and led the Tide to a comeback win and became the starter for the future. Tua would win the Maxwell and Walter Camp trophies and be named a Heisman finalist during his time at Alabama. Tua would finish with 87 touchdowns and over seven thousand yards in Tuscaloosa. Tua was selected 5th overall by the Dolphins in the 2020 Draft and is coming off his most successful season in South Beach. In his career, he has thrown for 52 touchdowns and over eight thousand yards, solidifying himself as a solid QB
2. Jedrick Willis
The Second is Jedrick Willis. Willis is another star lineman the Tide landed. Willis ranked 34th in the nation and 7th as a tackle. During his time at Alabama, Willis became a "brick wall" for the Tide and held down the line along with Alex Leatherwood. Willis never won any hardware, but he did manage to be named All-First Team SEC in 2019. In 2020, he declared for the Draft and was selected 10th overall by the Clevland Browns. Willis has turned himself into a solid NFL lineman early in his career.
3. Xavier McKinney
Xavier McKinney is third. The four-star safety ranked 58th in the nation and 6th in his position. Mckinney tore up opposing offenses his senior year in Georgia as he had 82 tackles and seven interceptions. During his first year at Alabama, he played special teams. He started his sophomore and junior seasons, becoming a solid star for the Crimson Tide defense. McKinney declared for the 2020 Draft and was selected by the Giants at pick 36. In his three years in the NFL, McKinney has shown himself as a solid addition to the Giants by being a vocal team leader and solid athlete on the field.
4. Devonta Smith
Devonta Smith is arguably the best player in this 2017 class. Smith ranked 62nd in the nation and 9th as a receiver. Smith saw the field occasionally during his freshman year and was on the receiving end of one of the best Touchdowns of the Saban Era. Devonta became a solid receiver for the Tide but experienced a major breakout in 2020. Smith exploded in his senior season and took home the Heisman Trophy, the Biletnikoff Award, and a National Championship. Devonta Smith broke numerous records at Alabama and made national headlines. After the 2020 season, Smith declared for the draft where the Eagles took him at pick 10. In his three-year career, Smith has garnered the nickname the Slim Reaper and has become a solid receiver in the NFL.
5. Henry Ruggs III
Henry Ruggs did not play high school football until his junior year and received his first scholarship offer after just his second game on the gridiron. The speedy receiver ranked 75th in the nation and 11th in the country. During his three years with the Tide, Ruggs eclipsed 24 touchdowns, putting him at 4th all-time for the Crimson Tide. Ruggs entered the 2020 Draft, where the Raiders selected him at pick 12. Ruggs played two years in the NFL, eclipsing 921 yards in 20 career games. During his sophomore season in the NFL, Ruggs was arrested due to a DUI that led to the death of a woman in Las Vegas. Ruggs is currently awaiting trial and could face up to 50 years in prison.