February 20, 2011

Junior Day Notebook, Part 2

One piece of unexpected news from Saturday's Junior Day event at Alabama was the Crimson Tide's decision to extend an offer to Atlanta (GA) Washington running back Justin Taylor. The 5-foot-11, 200-pound back rushed for over 1,500 yards and 11 touchdowns as a junior at Washington but has stayed under the radar thus far as a prospect, quietly picking up offers from Arkansas and Georgia Tech. Taylor headed to Tuscaloosa with very few expectations but came away with plenty to think about.

"Before I went to Alabama's Junior Day, I really didn't think they were that interested," said Taylor. "I had been keeping in touch with them but I wasn't getting too strong of a feeling one way or the other. Alabama has always been close to the top for me though. When I got to campus, I met with Coach (Chris) Rumph and Coach (Burton) Burns and they both told me that they were really excited about what they had seen on my tape and that Coach Saban was really impressed with me. I was kind of blown away."

"Later in the day I met with Coach Saban for a pretty long time and we talked about a lot of things. He said I reminded him a lot of Mark Ingram which was a huge compliment to me. He said he liked my running style and my body type and the effort I give on every run and he told me he would really love to have me at Alabama and he offered me a scholarship. He also explained to me that I really shouldn't worry about who else is on the roster now or who else might come in with me in the same class since Alabama likes to play two or even three backs and they aren't afraid to play you early."

"I stayed for the first half of the basketball game and hung out with Trent Richardson a little bit. He told me that coming to Alabama was the best decision he's ever made and that he loves it there, not just on the team but just the entire school experience in general."

Taylor's offer from Alabama triggered an immediately positive feeling about the Tide and the junior back said a decision could be coming soon.

"I told Coach Burns before I left that I really wasn't expecting to get that offer today but that I would need a couple of days just to go over it in my mind. I would like to take a couple days to think about it but I feel really good about Alabama right now and I might decide to go ahead and make a decision in the next week or two."

Buford duo come away with good news

Buford (GA) High School boasts a handful of potential Division I talent in the Class of 2012, among them linebacker Dillon Lee and tight end Kurt Freitag. Lee, who picked up an offer from the Crimson Tide in December, was visiting familiar territory but had a chance to further develop his relationship with the Tide coaching staff.

"It went really good. This is my third time visiting Alabama. I had nice time like I always do here," Lee said. "I talked with Coach Smart, Coach Cochran, and met with Coach Saban. Coach Saban just wanted to know if I had any questions about the program. With Coach Smart, we watched practice film and looked at the kind of drills they use. We were just talking football. The weight room and Coach Cochran stood out this time. We talked about the Fourth Quarter Program and their philosophy."

"We got in town and Coach Smart took us around and showed us everything. I was impressed with all the nice facilities and all the good people around the program. I was really impressed."

Meanwhile, Lee's friend and teammate Freitag, a 6-foot-3, 220-pound tight end, was picking up some good news from the Tide coaching staff.

"My mom and I got to talk with Coach Saban. He said he watched my tape and he liked how I play and that he'd love to have me," Freitag said. "It felt great to know that I have an opportunity to go to a school like Alabama. It was very exciting."

"The weight room was awesome. I liked how there's a nutrition center right there. Coach Cochran is really cool. I also liked the player dorms. We got to see a current player's room and that was neat. "

"I really enjoyed the visit and after today, I'd say Alabama is definitely in my top four schools. I'm really looking forward to coming back to Tuscaloosa."

Elite cornerback visits for Junior Day

Atlanta (GA) St. Pius X cornerback Geno Smith boasts perhaps the most impressive early offer list of any 2012 prospect in the Southeast, with more than 20 offers from programs in every major conference. Smith made the trip to Tuscaloosa for the Junior Day event and came away with a good early impression.

"I came down with my mom and one of my friends and we all had a good time," Smith said. "It was a great visit. The locker room, the weight room, the stadium, and the campus all stood out. I also went to the basketball game and stayed for a little bit. We had to leave early so we could get home, but it was a fun and exciting game."

"I talked with a bunch of the coaches. I spoke with Coach Rumph, Coach Burns, Coach Groh, Coach Smart, Coach Pruitt, and Coach Saban. They all just encouraged me to ask any questions I had and wanted to make sure that I enjoyed the visit."

"Coach Saban talked with me about the tradition and their high graduation rate. He said he's been coaching defensive backs for a long time. Coach Pruitt also reiterated how Coach Saban was a great defensive backs coach."

Smith, who boasts a 4.47 forty time and a 3.2 GPA, said he isn't planning on making a decision soon but has good feelings about the Crimson Tide thus far.

"I like Alabama a lot, but I'm still open. At this point, I'm still trying to get around and see what all these schools have to offer."

Smith registered 47 tackles, three interceptions and 10 pass deflections as a junior.

Tide hosts Peach State QB

Jesup (GA) Wayne County quarterback Greyson Lambert has been among the Tide's top quarterback targets for the 2012 class and the 6-foot-5, 195-pound signal caller made his way to Tuscaloosa to spend some time with the Alabama coaching staff this weekend.

"I got there a little early, so I got to talk with Coach Saban for about 15 or 20 minutes," Lambert said. "It was a good talk because this was the first time that my dad has met Coach Saban in person. They've talked on the phone once or twice, but this was the first time that they've talked in person. It was good that my dad could ask some questions about the university, how Alabama plans to recruit for the 2012 class, and their quarterback situation. We also talked about their 2011 recruiting class and how things are going with my recruiting process. It's always great whenever you get to talk with Coach Saban."

"We brought along some family friends who are Alabama fans. It was a lot of fun for them to see everything. It was fun to see their faces light up when they saw Coach Saban and everything else. We just toured the campus. I really liked the academic support structure and their academic building. I liked how everything is so compact. The players live in a building with a computer lab and a study hall and with all of that stuff so close together, it just makes it easy on the players. "

"I also got to talk with Coach Cochran and Coach McElwain. We talked about what I'm doing during the offseason. They gave me a few suggestions on some stuff to work on. It was neat to learn the kind of things they do during the offseason and that I could take some of that stuff home with me and use it to make myself better. I feel like overall it was a great visit- it always is when I go to Alabama."

Lambert, who also holds offers from Clemson, Georgia and NC State, said he is still weighing his options evenly at this point and could add a few more contenders to the list in the near future.

"Everything is pretty much the same with me right now. I have a top four of Alabama, Georgia, Clemson and NC State since those are the four schools that have offered me. I'm also getting serious interest from Florida State, Miami, and Arkansas. I'd like to make a commitment sometime before my senior season, but I don't have a definite time table in mind."

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