Rivals.com - The next Saban? Prospects weigh in at Rivals 3 Stripe Camp Mobile
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The next Saban? Prospects weigh in at Rivals 3 Stripe Camp Mobile

CLASS OF 2019 RANKINGS: Rivals250 | State | Position | Team

Dabo Swinney
Dabo Swinney (AP Images)

RELATED: Is Clemson the team to beat in 2018?

MOBILE, Ala – When the Rivals Camp Series presented by adidas checked into Mobile, much of the talk was about the defending national champions and the living-legend status of Alabama coach Nick Saban. But with the game’s top coach set to turn 67 this year, it’s not too soon to wonder which coach may become the dean of profession when Saban decides to hang it up.

Rivals.com polled dozens of recruits and asked them their opinions on who might become “the next Nick Saban” and take over as the sport’s most celebrated and successful coach when Saban rides off into retirement. Clemson’s Dabo Swinney and Georgia’s Kirby Smart dominated the conversation with nine and seven mentions respectively, but a number of other head coaches garnered mention. Below is a sampling of the most thoughtful responses.

“I’d say coach [Dabo] Swinney. He’s a great coach and a great guy. All the players love him and you can look at the success he’s had so far. He already has the title and he has Clemson on the radar every single year.” - Four-star quarterback Paul Tyson, grandson of late Alabama head coach Bear Bryant

“I’m going to have to say coach Swinney at Clemson. It’s his energy. That’s why he’s going to always have success getting good recruiting classes. We like that. Young players like him.” – Class of 2020 defensive back Reginald Bracey

“I would say [Scott] Frost. He’s always involved with his players and they always have a good time with him no matter which program he’s at. It was good what he was able to do at UCF. And I feel like they were really under-ranked at the end of the season. I feel like they should have been much higher.” – Louisiana-based wide receiver Tyler McNair

“I’d say Kirby Smart. Georgia seems like they’re here to stay and I like his fire and how he brought back the program.” – Three-star defensive tackle Patrick Lucas

“I would have to say and not just because I’m committed to LSU, I would say coach [Ed Orgeron] honestly. Because if he stays at LSU and keeps building things and getting good players I think they can be unstoppable. I think he’s that good.” – Rivals100 offensive lineman Kardell Thomas

“I think the new Mississippi State head coach, [Joe Moorhead]. You can just tell by how hype he is and by his attitude.” - Class of 2020 ATH Kris Draine

Kirby Smart
Kirby Smart (AP Images)

“Dabo Swinney. It’s just … I think he’s a young motivated coach. He’s been around a winning tradition for a while already. He seems like he’s on the verge.” – Three-star quarterback Sheldon Layman

“Clemson’s head coach, Dabo. He’s a great coach. A few years ago, Clemson was just a contender for the ACC. Now they’re a contender for it all every year.” – Three-star defensive back Collin Duncan

“Dabo Swinney. He’s just a great coach. I think he’s gonna be the next guy like Saban and I think he’s also probably the next guy up at Alabama.” - Mississippi State commit DJ James

“Man, I don’t think anyone. You can’t replace that. I’ll say nobody.” – Louisiana-based defensive back Jerrae Williams

“If I had to say, I would think coach [Gus] Malzahn. I mean, he’s not that young, but that’s who I think. He knows what he’s doing and he’s good every year. Alabama’s the only thing holding him back, and when Saban is gone …” – Three-star defensive back Jarrian Jones

“It’ll be Kirby Smart. He’s a Saban guy and his defense is great. He does so many different things. They shocked me this year, but now it looks like they’re going to be good for a long time.” – Defensive back Tyruss Gayden

“I don’t know. To me, the best coach before Nick Saban was Bear Bryant, so we could be waiting awhile for another Nick Saban. We might be waiting 40 or 50 years for another guy like that.” – 2020 defensive linemen McKinnley Jackson

“I’d say Dan Mullen. I think he’s set up there at Florida.” - Alabama-based offensive lineman Tyrique Sellers

“Ain’t gonna lie, I think it’s Kirby Smart at Georgia. I don’t really know how to explain why, but I think Georgia might be the next Alabama.” – Three-star offensive lineman Caleb Etienne

“I’d probably say Kirby Smart. He’s a great coach and understands us from a player perspective. He’s going to be a Nick Saban-type. He’s going to slide right in and become the best coach.” – Quarterback Kenneth Jefferson

“I think Dabo. He’s got a great program right now and gets a lot of recruits. He’s got a lot of time left, too.” – Three-star running back A'Montae Spivey