Years ago, Nick Saban adjusted. At the behest of then-offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin, he went on an uptempo spread attack that attracted some of the nation’s most talented skill-position players.
“Basically what I do is try to adapt to whatever situation we have and any situation,” he said recently.
The greatest coach in college football history, having a record seven national championships, is doing it again.
Given the importance of the transfer portal, especially now that players have a free transfer without forcibly sitting, Saban has another way to build its annual competitor. This year’s team may not reach the playoffs unless there are two transfers: former Ohio State receiver Jameson Williams and former Tennessee linebacker Henry To’oto.
After two years as a backup with the Buckeyes, Williams moved to Alabama, becoming one of the sport’s most dangerous downfield threats. His 20.1 yards per catch average is fifth-most in the nation, and he led the Crimson Tide with 1,507 receiving yards. The 6-foot-2 Williams exterminated Georgia in the SEC playoffs, catching seven passes for 184 yards and two touchdowns.
“I would say this is something I imagined, because I have plans – great plans – to do what I did [this year]”It’s the kind of things I have wanted to do since I was a child. I’ve been dreaming since I was growing up, playing college football on the big stage.”
He said: “If a person can find the right place, it will work well.”
To’oTo’o is just as important, Alabama’s leader in tackles (105), a junior majoring in defense reform over the past two months. Both players have improved while in Tuscaloosa. Williams eventually took advantage of getting consistent reps. To’oTo’o benefited from being surrounded by good players. Defensive lineman Fidarian Mathis was called “the captain of the ship.”
“Being able to be in a position where I am and be in this game with a group of boys and coaches is a huge blessing,” To’To’o said. “It’s a blessing. I can’t complain about anything I’ve experienced. I love every part of my road.
Alabama already has a strong start to next year. It received two more respectable transfers, running back LSU cornerback Eli Ricks and Georgia Tech Jahmir Gibbs. 5-11 Gibbs is coming off a strong season that has produced 746 rushing yards with 35 catches for 465 yards and six total touchdowns. Ricks was a third-team Associated Press All-American in 2020, but was limited to just six games last year due to a shoulder injury. He will be part of a strong core, led by Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Bryce Young and pass-rush rookie Will Anderson Jr., looking to keep Alabama at the top of the sport.
Ironically, Saban suggested that this could happen when a new transfer rule was enacted last April. The top players, then the weak programs are left to join the elite, he said.
“So does that make the rich rich? I don’t know. You can decide that, ”Saban said. “I don’t think our best players will quit. But I think some good players will be able to join us when we have the opportunity to do that.
It has happened so far, as they imagine. The plunge into the transfer market hasn’t hurt the Crimson Tide’s high school recruiting yet. Its current class is ranked second by 247Sports.com.
“I think Saban is very smart,” Williams High School coach Brandon Gregory told ESPN. “He’s an old school guy, but he does what he has to do to keep up with Jones.”
This is evident in the ever-evolving world of college football. However, as Saban grows older, he continues to adapt. He has changed his aggressive and recruiting methods. It is no coincidence that this forever Alabama dynasty is endless in sight.