One of the most heated recruiting battles of the 2023 cycle came to a conclusion on Sunday when Tony Mitchell, a five-star cornerback and the No. 15 overall player in the class, committed to Alabama over finalists of Auburn, Texas A&M and Georgia. Mitchell, who hails from Thompson High School in Alabaster, Alabama, drove to Tuscaloosa on Sunday to deliver the news to coach Nick Saban personally.
Mitchell has 201 tackles and seven interceptions in three high school seasons. He has played multiple positions in the secondary since earning playing time as a freshman, and should provide incredible versatility for Saban once he arrives on campus.
Cooper Petagna, national recruiting analyst for 247Sports, provided this scouting report on the newest member of the Crimson Tide recruiting class.
"Possesses ideal size for his position at 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds," Petagna wrote. "Appears to possess growth potential to add additional weight to his frame. Displays good athleticism in multiple positions throughout the secondary. Long reactionary defensive back with fluid hips that transitions smoothly in and out of breaks. More of a smooth hipped athlete than he is quick twitch explosive. Appears to have good short area quickness and change of direction ability. Displays good patience and suddenness as a man to man slot defender.
"Possesses above average play speed. Could see a natural progression to a deep middle defender or as a nickel from his corner position. Flashes some key and diagnose ability in the short to intermediate part of the field. Willing run support defender with the ability to play in space. Demonstrates some ability to play the ball but has limited ball production."
What does Mitchell's commitment mean for Alabama?
The lure of playing in Tuscaloosa is just too much to ignore for players looking to move onto the NFL. Mitchell cited the future training he'll receive from Saban as one of the biggest factors in his choice.
"The player development and opportunity to win a National Championship every year made it an easy decision for me," Mitchell told 247Sports. "The best players go play at Alabama and they produce first rounders every year."
That's not just lip service. Defensive backs Jalyn Armour-Davis, Patrick Surtain II, Trevon Diggs, Xavier McKinney, Deionte Thompson, Ronnie Harrison, Minkah Fitzpatrick and Anthony Averett have all been drafted since 2018. Several more, including Eli Ricks, Malachi Moore and Jordan Battle, could join them as professionals in next year's draft.
There isn't a player in the nation who doesn't want to play football for a living, but only a select few get the training that can make them millions immediately upon leaving college. Saban's program provides that opportunity, and it's clear that Mitchell received that message loud and clear.
Coaches like to orchestrate the timing of commitments throughout the offseason in order to build momentum heading into the late summer and early fall. Players themselves are the most important recruiters in a class, especially in this day and age of text chains, national recruiting camps and the ability to communicate 24/7/365.
It might come as a surprise that Alabama actually needs a big recruiting push. Mitchell is the seventh player to commit to Saban during this cycle and only the second, 5-star prospect. That might seem like a solid foundation for most programs, but it isn't for the Crimson Tide.
Alabama ranks 20th in the country and fourth in the SEC in the 247Sports recruiting rankings. That's more a case of quantity rather than quality since the three SEC schools above the Tide in the rankings -- Arkansas, Tennessee and Georgia -- each have double-digit commitments already. Translation: A wave of Crimson Tide commitments could be forthcoming.