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Everything Nick Saban Said on National Signing Day

The Alabama head coach addresses the Crimson Tide's signing class, transfer portal additions and changes in the coaching staff.

Even though Alabama signed most of its 2022 class back on the Early Signing Day in December, the Crimson Tide was able to fill some positions of need like tight end and long snapper on Tuesday to finalize the class. 

Alabama head coach Nick Saban will address the media Tuesday afternoon to discuss Alabama's efforts on National Signing Day, the 2022 class as a whole and potentially the recent coaching changes on his staff as well as additions from the transfer portal. 

Stay here for live updates throughout the press conference. The story will be updated with video and a full transcript once Saban is done speaking. 

Live Updates

  • Saban comes out looking sharp in a reddish/purplish blazer with a script A pin. 
  • "We were really pleased and happy to add one player today, which was really kind of our goal."- Saban. He is referring to tight end Danny Lewis out of Louisiana who was Alabama's one signee on Tuesday. 
  • "I think we satisfied some needs in this class."
  • Saban says he's focused on development, not ranking/stars. 
  • Saban now talking about the three transfer players (Eli Ricks, Jermaine Burton and Jahmyr Gibbs.) Calls them all outstanding players that help meet needs Alabama had. 
  • He's now talking about all three new assistant coaches. He mentions that all three have SEC experience, and he is looking forward to new energy and enthusiasm. 
  • Saban is thanking everyone for their hard work and begins with the fans for creating a good environment at Bryant-Denny stadium that makes players want to come play at Alabama. 
  • Saban says that Pete Golding has a really good personality and is good at developing relationships with players which helps a lot in recruiting.
  • "I don't think anyone should make a decision on a school about how much money that can make based on name, image and likeness." Saban says he's not accusing anyone of anything though. He thinks it is great that players can make money from NIL, but doesn't want it to decide where people are going to play. 
  • He says Sal Sunseri will become a special assistant to the head coach.
  • Saban says he has not seen the video of Brian Kelly dancing with Danny Lewis. "I like to dance too." Mentions line dancing and the Cupid Shuffle as some of his favorites. 

Nick Saban Full Transcript- Feb. 2, 2022

Opening Statement

"Boy, it’s been a long time since the early signing date. I think we all probably need to adapt a little bit to the changes in the landscape of college football and how it’s changed now that early signing date has become the signing date. We were really pleased and happy to add one player today, which was really kind of our goal. Danny Lewis, the tight end, and all the other guys that we signed in December. I think the 23 guys we signed in December, we were really pleased and happy with. This is the culmination of a lot of hard work by a lot of people. First of all, our coaches did a great job of identifying some really character-quality prospects who were good players, who have great upside and who fit what we’re looking for at the University of Alabama to develop personally, academically and athletically to being as successful as possible in all those areas. We recruit around here with sort of a team effort and the university community, our administration, Dr. Bell, Greg Byrne, a lot of people in the university community support and contribute academically to helping us do a good job of representing the university in a first class way and the opportunities that these people -- that our players have -- you know, academically and we got a lot of people in our organization here internally that do a really, really good job of spending time and developing relationships, you know, with recruits so that they feel at home and comfortable with, you know, being a part of the University Alabama program.

"So, I think we satisfied some needs in this class. As you well know, there's a lot of rankings, there's a lot of ratings out there. But, you know, basically what we want our players that we recruit to focus on is, is their development. They certainly have the qualities that we look forward to be outstanding football players, but we also want them to focus on, you know, the right things and, you know, everybody wants to play, everybody wants an opportunity to play. We give everybody an opportunity to play but I think the key thing for players is to stay focused on what they have to do to develop so when they get an opportunity to play, they can take advantage of it.

"And so that's always, you know, our goal, no matter how a player is ranked, whether it's the NFL Draft where you get drafted. No matter where he’s ranked, nobody has to live up to anything. What they have to do is say ‘I got an opportunity because of what I was able to accomplish and what I was able to do. Now the focus needs to be on, you know, how am I going to take advantage of it and the opportunity that I have here.’

"So we also added three transfer players, wide receiver Jermaine Burton, running back, Jahmyr Gibbs, and cornerback Eli Ricks, who are all guys that I think are outstanding players and certainly can make a contribution, you know, to our team in areas where we have needs.

"We've also added three new coaches. Coleman Hutzler will be the special teams coach. He's a defensive coach, so they'll actually do the special teams from the defensive side of the ball. Travaris Robinson will be secondary coach here, coach cornerbacks and Eric Wolford will be the offensive line coach and all these guys have really good pedigree, really good background, really good experience. All these guys have been in the SEC at some point in time and know this league and I think will make a really positive relationship, positive effect by the relationships that they can build and develop, you know, with our players on our team.

"So we're excited about having these new this new energy this new enthusiasm to go along with the quality coaches that we have here in the program who did an outstanding job a year ago. So I want to thank everyone out there for all their hard work. I think it starts with the fans and the atmosphere and environment that they create in Bryant-Denny Stadium, which you know, is a part of the spirit that makes people want to be a part of the program here at the University of Alabama. And all the people you know, at our institution, and university community as well as in the athletic department tying the football program who worked so hard to make this happen.”

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On Pete Golding as a recruiter

“I think Pete has a great personality. I think he spends a lot of time with players. And I think it’s all about relationships. I know that we have a good product here. Pete does a great job of selling that product. But I think in the end, the players know that he cares about them. Players really don’t know what you know until they know that you care. Pete’s got a great personality. I think he really works hard at it, he’s a really good coach and he has a good relationship with the players on our team. And I think when players talk to the players on our team, they sort of get that feedback, and that’s all helpful in terms of players feeling comfortable here, knowing that they have a good relationship with the coach that recruited them but also with the coach that’s gonna coach them and a lot of the other people involved in the organization. So Pete does a good job of selling all those things in a positive way.”

On suggestions on how NIL rules in recruiting should evolve

“Just philosophically – and this is a philosophical answer to your question – I think players have always been able to work. I think it’s a good thing that players now have an opportunity to work and make money through name, image and likeness. I would hope we come up with some system in the future where – and I’m not accusing anybody of anything. But I don’t think players should make a decision about where they go to school relative to how much money they’re gonna make in name, image and likeness. I think all the players on our team who made money in name, image and likeness this year had representation on their own, and all those deals were created on their own based on their brand and what they did. There’s nobody at this institution that had anything to do with any of that. Somebody should pick a school because of the institution, the relationships that they have, how they can develop personally, academically and athletically and the kind of program that they have and the kind of institution that they wanna go to. I just hope that it doesn’t get to where name, image and likeness deals are created for high school players to get them to go to a particular institution. And I’m not accusing anybody of that. I’m not saying anybody did that. That’s not why I’m saying this. I’m just saying philosophically I think it’s great the players can earn the right to make money through name, image and likeness when they’re on a college team. I just hope it doesn’t get to that point because then you open up a whole new can of worms when it comes to recruiting.”

On Sal Sunseri’s new role

“Sal is going to be a special assistant to the head coach, for me. I think there’s a lot of things going on in college football, the landscape has changed dramatically. You guys all know that. Whether it’s the portal, having people on top of the portal, you almost need a staff of people just like you have a staff of people for recruiting to find out who the best players in high schools are. You also have to have people responsible to do evaluations in terms of who’s getting in the portal. And also tracking how guys that get in the portal actually do. I think it’s a little bit of a fad right now to think that I get in the portal and all my issues and problems are gonna be solved. But yet it’d be interesting to see how many people really benefit in a positive way from taking advantage of the opportunity to get in the portal, and we’re gonna track those kinds of things and Sal’s gonna be involved in a lot of those things. But he’s gonna be a special assistant to me, aight, to help me in a lot of ways in the changing landscape of college football.”

On how he would approach Bill O’Brien potentially leaving in February

“Well, you’re asking a hypothetical question. The only thing I would agree with you on is the changing calendar for the NFL has sort of extended the time that people would have opportunities in the NFL. Even the Senior Bowl was pushed back a week. This is the first time I didn’t go to the Senior Bowl since I don’t know when because there were things that we had to do here. I always meet with all of our players on our team on Monday and Tuesday before signing day. I spent all day today talking to guys that we’re gonna recruit next year. So I didn’t get to go to the Senior Bowl. The new calendar, again, it’s something that we all have to adapt to. But look, Bill’s done a great job for us here, and Bill’s had a very successful career. I don’t think Bill’s trying to leave. I think he likes it at Alabama, and we have an opportunity with some pretty good players at the quarterback position and other positions to maybe continue to grow and develop here offensively and I think he’s looking forward to that challenge. But saying all that to say this: I’ve always been one that guys work hard and do a good job for you, if they get opportunities to go someplace else, I wanna support them and help them if it benefits them and their family. But we have no indication of that other than what y’all put on the internet right now, which is a lot of maybes. So we’re not really trying to address something that might happen.”

Breaking down the three new transfers

“Jermaine Burton was somebody that we recruited out of high school that we thought was a really, really good player. He had a fairly productive year at Georgia. They have a lot of good players at his position, and he had some production this year. But probably might have seen a better opportunity because we're a little bit more wide open and throw the ball more with a good quarterback. That may have been his intention. We feel like we lost both starting receivers and Slade, you know two to the draft and Slade, so to get a more experienced player that has some playing time in this league probably is a good thing for us. We like his ability, and hopefully he'll be able to be very productive for us.”

“Gibbs was a very productive running back at Georgia Tech— very fast, very explosive guy, has really good hands. He actually practiced with us before the national championship game, and we’re excited about the speed and explosiveness. He's a really good receiver. I think he can do a lot of positive things for us.

“Eli Ricks was a starting corner at LSU. Hurt his shoulder last year, so he missed I think more than half the season. So obviously both our corners, Josh Jobe being a senior and Jalyn Armour-Davis going out for the draft, it’s a good opportunity for him. And certainly adds some experience and depth at that position for us.

“So all the guys have played well, when they played for their team. And we all thought that they would be positive additions to our team.”

On adding Danny Lewis at tight end

“We have 13 guys that are here mid-year. One of them’s a tight end. We have another guy that we list as an athlete that is probably a tight end. We really looked hard for guys in this class that had really good senior years that maybe were a little late developing. And we were really excited about Danny, and we’re happy to get him.

“And I think that tight end is one of the positions that we have some need at, so to be able to get three players in this class that have a chance to develop and maybe contribute is probably real positive for us. And we like all three guys.”

On if he’s seen the viral dancing video of Brian Kelly and Danny Lewis and what Lewis’ character is like

“I have not seen the video, but I like to dance too. I like the line dance, do the cupid shuffle or whatever they call it, you know all that stuff. I usually do it in the house at our recruiting parties on Saturday night. Some of it ends up on YouTube. But everybody’s got their way to do what they do whether it's in recruiting or how they run their program, and there's a lot of different ways to skin a cat. It’s not for me to judge anybody in terms of what they do.

“I really like Danny. He’s got a great family— people in South Louisiana are great people. He's been very successful as a basketball player and was very productive this year as a football player. So he's got great size. I think he runs well. He's a good blocker. Tight end is a position where it used to be when Ozzie Newsome played tight end, you just lined up by the tackle, put your hand in the dirt and that was what a tight end did. Now a tight end does that, he plays wide receiver, and he also plays H-back off the ball which now is more like a fullback. So it's really hard to find guys that can do all those things. I think Danny has a chance to be a guy that can do those things. But most importantly, I think he's big enough to be an in-line blocker. Cam Latu is a guy who has developed nicely at that position for us and can do these things. But we certainly need somebody young in our program that can do all these things as well.”