Saban: Prep coaches aided in Tide’s title roll

The last week leading up to National Signing Day is always a hectic time for Nick Saban, but the Alabama football coach gladly took a few moments to speak at the fifth annual Alabama Football Coaches Association convention.

Saban flew into Montgomery on Thursday afternoon to thank high school coaches for their role in developing the state’s up-and-coming football players. He also addressed the coaches attending the convention at the Embassy Suites, giving some secondary pointers to the state association comprised largely of high school coaches.

“Any success that we have as a program at the University of Alabama goes back to the high school programs that we have and the great high school coaching that goes on to engage these guys and inspire them to be as good as they can be,” Saban said. “We’ve had a lot of players who made a significant impact who were coached by a lot of these guys, and any success that we had, they certainly deserve a lot of credit for it.”

Several of those players, including Decatur’s Rolando McClain, Mountain Brook’s William Vlachos and Foley’s Julio Jones, played a huge role in Alabama’s run to the 2009 national championship, but Saban is already looking ahead to the 2010 season.

“We’re looking forward, not backward,” he said. “We’re knee-deep in recruiting. We’re not talking about last year’s team any more. We’re talking about next year, and that’s what we’re trying to get our players to focus on.”

Saban’s first focus these days is putting the finishing touches on this year’s recruiting class. It will not finish No. 1 in the country as the past two recruiting classes have, but Alabama could move ahead of Texas into second place behind Florida with a strong finish.