No. 7 recruit Jaquavious Russaw and No. 11 James Smith both commit to Alabama to play under Nick Saban. (1:04) It's rare to see package deals -- where teammates commit to the same school -- work out in college football recruiting, but Alabama pulled it off Wednesday, landing five-star teammates Jaquavious Russaw and James Smith. The 2023 recruits had the same top list of schools, including Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Ohio State and Alabama State.
The Crimson Tide won out, though, and they are getting two very good defenders. "Just the winning program," Russaw told ESPN. "Great program, great place to be, and they can do a lot for you. It's a legendary program." Russaw is the No. 7 prospect overall and the No. 1 outside linebacker, from Carver High School in Montgomery, Alabama.
Smith, who is the No. 11 recruit overall and the No. 2 defensive tackle, is 6-foot-3, 300 pounds. The teammates took visits to most of the schools on their list and had made it a point to find the same school together. "It was pretty important [to pick the same school]," Russaw said. "At one point in time, our recruitment, we were looking at different teams, but we came together." Despite nearly every major program recruiting the two defensive five-stars, Russaw said Alabama separated itself through what it could offer on and off the field.
Ultimately, for the two, it was Nick Saban and the consistency he has built that put the Crimson Tide over the top. "Coach Saban, he's an outstanding guy," Russaw said. "He's going to keep it real with you and let you know what you can do for the team. It's not going to be easy, but if you come in and focus on ball and school, you'll do well."