Players coming to Alabama know what to expect when they arrive.
They know that if they become starters, they will be on national television every week, compete for championships and have a decent shot at the NFL Draft if they are good enough; maybe a better chance at making it from Alabama than at any other school in the country.
But it hasn’t always been like that.
When Saban arrived at Alabama in 2007, the program was crumbling, mired by probation and poor coaching, and it had been for years; a former power with a fickle fanbase that hadn't seen a team with championship aspirations in over a decade. College football's best coach was leaving the NFL—a subpar term with the Miami Dolphins—and returning to the ranks of the collegiate game he knew best.
But Saban has an advantage over many other college coaches: He knows the NFL. He knows what makes it tick, what scouts and general managers are after, what it takes to join its ranks, and he's shown that ability with how many players Alabama has sent to the NFL.
The machine of the current Alabama program didn't have a single player drafted to the NFL in 2008—the first year of Saban's tenure in Tuscaloosa. But since that draft less class, Alabama has had 33 players drafted, with 14 in the first round—more first-rounders than any other school in the country.
And in 99 days at the 2014 NFL Draft, Alabama is expected to have more first round picks again. Three players already projected in the first round this year.
Saban has recruited three consecutive No. 1 recruiting classes, and with the constant influx of talent, once the hyper-talented players leave the Saban system and into the NFL, a new crop enters in again. The ability to sell a high-schooler, whose actual goal for college is to major in football, on a legitimate chance at the NFL is paramount in recruiting in this era of college football.
The Alabama Athletics PR department is quite adept at promoting the fact that if you come to Tuscaloosa to play football, the chances are high that you'll be drafted. They use ads, emails, letters, and most notably, posters with information like how many players recruited by Saban were drafted in his entire collegiate coaching career (111) or the amount of money made by last year’s Alabama draft picks ($51.8 million).
The 98 percent of college players that don't make it to the NFL aren't the focal point around this time of year—they’re forgotten. It's the unusually high amount of Saban’s players that do.
Check back every day from now until May 8 for an NFL draft nugget that pertains to college football in the South. You can also view the entire “100 Days to the NFL draft” series.