Friday Night Notes: Early signing period winners, 2023 rankings reset and more

    USA TODAY High School Sports‘ Friday Night Notes is a weekly high school recruiting recap that looks at the latest news from around the country—from the Class of 2023 to ’24 and beyond.

    It’s not hard to figure out the biggest winner of the 2022 early signing period. Alabama went into this week already having the best recruiting class of the 2023 cycle, and it only got better over the last few days. Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide added five-star prospects at four crucial positions for the modern game, securing their place at the top of this recruiting cycle.

    Here’s who came on board.

    Alabama

    Five-stars DL James Smith & EDGE Qua Russaw – Carver (Ala.)

    These two five-star teammates from Carver (Ala.) were a package deal, having sold themselves as being joined at the hip when it comes to recruiting.

    After getting courted by Auburn, Florida and Georgia and Texas A&M, at 2:00 p.m. Eastern time on Wednesday afternoon they announced that they’ve signed their letters of intent with Alabama.

    .@Carver_FB’s Jaquavious Russaw and James Smith are both going to Alabama! @wsfa12news pic.twitter.com/tfio19IMri

    — Rosie Langello (@RosieLangello) December 21, 2022

    Smith is ranked second among defensive linemen in this class and No. 18 overall, while Russaw is ranked third at edge and No. 22 in the nation.

    5 star OT Kadyn Proctor – Southeast Polk (Iowa)

    The Tide also pulled off a huge flip, stealing five-star offensive tackle Kadyn Proctor from Iowa. Proctor (6-foot-7, 330 pounds) is the No. 2 OT in this class and No. 12 overall. Asked why he chose Alabama, Proctor says it wasn’t about NIL money, but about challenging himself, per Hawk Central.

    “I thought I was settling at Iowa and when I went down there (Alabama), I saw all the guys that are as big as me and have the same mindset as me and worked like me… That’s just what I wanted to do. I don’t want to come into this school and everybody thinks I’m one of the best players there already. I want to grow. That’s not how I grow. I’ve got to get hit in the mouth before I can grow..”

    5-star CB Desmond Ricks – IMG Academy (Fla.)

    Saban wasn’t done yet, though. He also managed to sign the No. 2 cornerback in the 2023 class in Ricks (6-foot-1, 170 pounds). A rare athlete, Ricks has a 4.5 second 40-yard dash time and a 39″ vertical. Ricks had offers from 35 other schools, including SEC rivals Florida, LSU and Auburn.

    Alabama’s 2023 recruiting class tops out at 17 points higher than the next-closest school…

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