When the University of Alabama football program celebrated national signing day in 2011, safety Vinnie Sunseri enjoyed seeing it from both sides for once, as he had already enrolled.
His joy was obvious. Sunseri’s dad was part of Nick Saban‘s coaching staff, and everything had fallen just right so that the father and son could be together with the same team.
“Growing up I didn’t get to see him too often because he was always out recruiting, always talking to other kids and stuff and I grew up envious of that,” Sunseri told reporters that day. “Actually being able to be with him 24/7 is something that I’ll remember the rest of my life. He is my hero.”
While 2011 will always be remembered for the Crimson Tide winning the national championship after the devastating April tornadoes that went through the state, including Tuscaloosa, Alabama first won another recruiting title.
“Recruiting is a big part of football,” linebacker Trey DePriest said after enrolling early as well. “It makes your program what it is.
“We have a great class. I can’t wait until they all get here in the fall.”
With Kouandjio’s addition, Alabama signed three 5-star recruits and 15 4-star recruits in 2011. Those who were incoming freshmen would now be seniors (juniors if redshirted), but five players from the class are already in the National Football League, including two who were junior college transfers.
The two things in particular that coaches coveted were leadership and more athletic defensive linemen, which on paper the Crimson Tide appeared to add.
“I think we have a lot of good players in this class. I think Trey (DePriest) and Vinnie (Sunseri) both, and maybe because they’ve been here so they were involved on a couple of recruiting weekends, you’re talking about guys who are everything you could wish for if your children grew up to be like them,” head coach Nick Saban said during his signing day press conference. “They have a lot of ability, they are hard workers, they are very committed, but they’re very personable and caring for other people and can put somebody else ahead of themselves in terms of what they’re doing and what their commitment is. Those two guys have been very impressive to me as well.”
He added about the defensive line: “Even though we had some good players last year and I was pleased with the progress our defense made throughout the course of the year, so I’m not in any way trying to be critical, we weren’t quite as athletic, we didn’t have as many good pass-rushers.”
Here’s a look back at the Class of 2011. Rankings are the composite listings by 247Sports, nationally, position and by state. Positions are where the player was initially recruited: