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Alabama head coach Nick Saban has some words for Alabama kicker Andy Pappanastos during the win over Georgia. (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)

TUSCALOOSA — Toward the end of the prepared, opening remarks on National Signing Day, Nick Saban doled out the final, requisite thank yous to each member of the sprawling Alabama football program who aids in recruiting.

“Recruiting has turned into pretty much a year-round process and it's not just about recruiting this class, but it's next year's class and the class after that,” Saban said, lauding their constant efforts. “The recruiting calendar has changed how we recruit.”

Earlier in the day, during the school-produced recruiting show, he reminisced with former Tide center Barrett Jones and play-by-play man Eli Gold about earlier in his career when his staff fixed its attention on one class — that year’s class — and no more.

Times have undoubtedly changed, perhaps no more evident than this cycle, the first where a three-day early December signing period was utilized. Alabama signed 15 of its 20 players then.

Was it enough? Should the Crimson Tide have signed more or managed the early period differently? Saban was outwardly onerous about the early signing period and its interference with his College Football Playoff preparations.

Wednesday, now given the luxury of hindsight with his class completed, Saban declined to speculate, only remarking that the landscape will change as each year passes and more coaches become more familiar with how to navigate the two signing sessions.

“I do think that it does accelerate the recruiting calendar. I think you have to have more guys visit early, you have to get on top of people early,” Saban said. “If they're going to early sign, you have to identify that and recruit to that timetable. And the guys that are going to stay until the end, you certainly have to be very conscious of doing a good job with those guys as well.”

Alabama lost three of the four commitments it did not sign in the early signing period. Both defensive tackle Bobby Brown and linebacker Vernon Jackson signed with Texas A&M, though the Aggies listed Jackson as a running back.

Linebacker Quay Walker flipped to Georgia, too. The four-star prospect ensured Georgia would finish with 247sports’ No. 1 ranked class — a title the Crimson Tide had won for seven straight years.

“I think that we've all kind of grown to understand that commitments don't really mean a whole bunch in a lot of cases,” Saban said. “I don't think you can judge much based on that because guys just continue to visit — so they're really not committed — and if they find something else that they like better, then they're not committed.”

Sometimes, what they like better comes from a new voice.

Saban acknowledged the Southeastern Conference’s frenzied December coaching carousel — when five programs got new head coaches — made this cycle somewhat of an outlier.

Take, for example, the Tide’s lost commitments. Both Brown and Jackson signed with the Aggies, under new coach Jimbo Fisher. Walker now infamously donned a Tennessee hat during his signing day ceremony, only to toss it and pick up a Georgia cap.

The Volunteers, of course, are now led by former Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt

“Those coaching changes were much more aggressive in the late signing period because they got their staffs together and, in some cases, created new opportunities for players,” Saban said.

“But maybe next year it won't be that way.”

Contact Anniston Star Sports Writer Chandler Rome at crome@annistonstar.com. Twitter: @Chandler_Rome. Check facebook.com/annistonstar for Rome’s Alabama practice reports and live streaming of Nick Saban news conferences.

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