Texas A&M top-ranked 2022 football class beat out Alabama’s No. 2, and Nick Saban expounded on his explanation for why this happened for the first time since at least 2010, which is as far back as 247Sports‘ rankings go.
“We were second in recruiting last year. A&M was first. A&M bought every player on their team. Made a deal for name, image and likeness. We didn’t buy one player,” Saban said, according to Al.com reporter Mike Rodak.
The Alabama head football coach spoke for about seven minutes about NIL and collectives during an event at the World Games 2022. The video of him speaking was posted to YouTube by Al.com.
Clip of Nick Saban saying Texas A&M “bought every player” in its 2022 recruiting class.
— Cory Smith (@RCorySmith) May 19, 2022
Texas A&M dominated this recruiting cycle. The Aggies have eight five-star recruits, by far the most in the nation and twice as many as Alabama. Two of the commits, Walter Nolen and Shemar Stewart, are in the top 10 of the 247Sports Composite.
Alabama has four five-star recruits and 23 four-stars, the latter of which is three more than Texas A&M. The Crimson Tide’s highest-ranked player is Jeremiah Alexander, No. 17 in the nation.
Saban went off on the way NIL collectives are operated, saying coaches use it to their advantage and, in some cases, do so against the rulebook. He referenced Jackson State specifically, referencing reports that an elite player was paid $1 million to attend the HBCU in this recruiting cycle. Jackson State got the commitment of five-star cornerback Travis Hunter, the No. 1-rated player in the nation.
This got the attention of JSU head coach Deion Sanders.
The NFL Hall of Famer took to Twitter on Wednesday night, calling Saban’s comment a “lie.” Jackson State has denied the rumors previously.
You best believe I will address that LIE Coach SABAN told tomorrow. I was & awakened by my son @ShedeurSanders that sent me the article stating that WE PAYED @TravisHunterJr a Million to play at @GoJSUTigersFB ! We as a PEOPLE don’t have to pay our PEOPLE to play with our PEOPLE.
— COACH PRIME (@DeionSanders) May 19, 2022
Sanders said that he would address the claim in more detail on Thursday.
For what it’s worth, Saban said that Alabama does have a collective, but players get paid equal amounts through it and are encouraged to create additional income elsewhere with the help of other resources.
The Crimson Tide finished with the second-best recruiting class, but Saban acknowledged it might be a struggle to continue their deep recruiting success if NIL rules do not change.
“I don’t know if we’re going to be able to sustain that in the future because more and more people are doing it,” he said regarding the way Alabama operates its collective.