Alabama's 2012 class is No. 1 in nation

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Before the ink could dry on the University of Alabama's 2012 signing class, coach Nick Saban already was thinking about the future. Thursday, the hunt begins for the class of 2013, but Wednesday was all about welcoming a new group of players into the Alabama program.

By the time the sun rose on signing day, Saban had his entire commitment board filled out. The rest of the day was spent watching the plan unfold.

"We knew exactly pretty much what we were going to get," Saban said when he addressed the media Wednesday afternoon. "We didn't have any surprises. All of those things shook out in the last 24 hours."

Alabama hauled in two five-star recruits and 13 ESPNU 150 prospects on its way to the No. 1 class in the nation, according to ESPNU. It is the fifth consecutive year Saban has led the Tide to a top-three recruiting class.

In all, 18 high school seniors faxed in their letters of intent to Tuscaloosa on Wednesday, bringing the 2012 class to 26 total players. Louisiana native Landon Collins was the final commit to send in his paperwork. The five-star prospect and No. 1 safety in the ESPNU 150 was the highest-rated player in the Tide's 2012 class.

"We're very, very pleased with the group of players we were able to attract this year," Saban said. "I think we filled some needs with this class. We started out with a goal of explosive players on offense: running back, receiver, those kind of guys. We felt good about the guys we were able to attract from that standpoint."

Alabama was able to land two, top-10 wide receivers and the No. 1 running back in the state, T.J. Yeldon. ESPNU 150 receiver Chris Black said Saban's desire for more playmakers at the position was a major factor in him committing to the Tide.

"As Coach Saban is always preaching, he needs more explosive guys. That was the reason why I came," Black, the No. 2 receiver in the ESPNU 150, said.

Black added that it was a point of pride to be part of the No. 1 class in the country.

"As you can see, consistently it's one of the top programs," Black said of Alabama. "It's definitely an honor. Just having a lot of guys around me that are explosive, impact players, it makes me feel good."

Saban didn't just focus on improving what at times was an anemic offense. He said he also targeted defensive recruits to fill the vacancies left behind by NFL-bound stars Mark Barron, Dont'a Hightower, Courtney Upshaw and Dre Kirkpatrick.

"We're obviously losing a lot of very, very good defensive players," Saban said. "Even though we have some good defensive players here, we felt it was important to have a really good year on the defensive side of the ball."

Despite pulling in some of the country's top prospects, Saban was quick to downplay the notion that it ensures success on the field. Whether players like Collins live up to the billing is the responsibility of the coaching staff and the players. Saban said any question of the signees playing as freshmen will be answered by the attitude of the individual.

"We give everyone an opportunity to play as freshmen," Saban said. "The more mature guys that learn more quickly are the ones that have the best chance to contribute as freshmen."

Alex Scarborough covers University of Alabama athletics for TideNation. He can be reached at alexscarborough.espn@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AlexS_ESPN.