Chris Black Heard Opportunity Knock

Chris Black is one of those hight school stars who could have gone anywhere, including several decent college football programs much closer to his Jacksonville, Florida, home. But Black, the 19th ranked wide receiver prospect in the nation, a four-star performer, heard opportunity knocking at Alabama.

"Throughout the recruiting process, everybody makes you feel like you're the one guy they really want," said Chris Black, a 5-11, 170-pound wide receiver who everybody really did want. "Truly, at the end of the day, this is where I felt at home."

Alabama was his choice over Florida State, Florida, Miami, Georgia, Auburn, Notre Dame, Clemson, and Tennessee.

Black played at First Coast High School in Jacksonville, where he was first team 7A all-state and a high school All-America. He caught 55 passes for 881 yards and 12 touchdowns as a senior, and also had 22 rushes for 222 yards, a little over 10 yards per carry. As a junior he had 49 receptions for 990 yards and 12 touchdowns.

It's no wonder he caught the eye of Alabama recruiters. Wide receiver is a Crimson Tide position of need. Marquis Maze, Darius Hanks, and Brandon Gibson have all completed their eligibility.

"That's another big reason I came here," he said. "There's opportunity with those three guys leaving. And Coach (Nick) Saban was always preaching, ‘We need more explosive guys.' That was the reason I came."

He said the quality of recruiting at Alabama was another factor. He said not only would he have to work hard against outstanding defensive players like new signee safety Landon Collins, he would also be working with fellow play-makers on offense. "It's consistently one of the top programs," he said. "That'll only get me better. I look forward to that. I have a lot of guys around me that are explosive players and impact players. That makes me feel good."

Black joined the Crimson Tide in January and is going through the off-season program, looking forward to the start of spring practice in March.

Even before he knew where he was going to be in college, he knew when he was going to be in college.

"I had planned on finishing early as soon as I got to high school, to be honest with you," he said. "So it wasn't that hard for me to do it. I just stayed focused and it paid off."

He said he wanted "to get in, get acclimated to things early on, and then compete for a starting position."

Asked what he brings as a receiver, Black said "being explosive and being versatile. I can play in the slot or an outside position."

He said he began to develop a relationship with Alabama quarterbacks on arrival. "That was one of the main goals of coming in early," he said, "just getting that chemistry with A.J. McCarron and throwing it around with Phillip Sims and those guys. That's definitely a key."

Workouts take first priority for the rest of this month, though. "Besides the first day, everything has been great," Black said. "The first day was pretty tough for all of us. It was rough. Since then, everything has been pretty good. It's pretty intense in there, but we're pretty used to it now. We're focused on the task at hand. It's something we just had to get through.

"They keep us pumped up. We love it."

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