Alabama ‘at the top'

Alabama has had plenty of success recruiting in Louisiana over the last few cycles, and the 2014 class may be the state's biggest talent pool in some time. The Crimson Tide is in on many juniors, as expected, and one has the champs on top after earning an offer on Saturday's Junior Day.

Among the many prospects on Alabama's campus on Saturday for the program's second junior day of the cycle, Garrald McDowell was one of a select few to be notified of a scholarship offer he has on the table from the reigning national champs.

It came from Nick Saban himself.

"Yesterday was an exciting day for me visiting Alabama for the first time with my coaches," he said. "It was great getting that offer from Alabama. That offer really put them at the top on my list."

The Covington (La.) defensive standout, who also holds offers from Kansas State, Arkansas and Louisiana-Lafayette, wasn't offered at a specific position by Alabama.

"My coaches and I met with Coach Saban in his office and we were talking about where I can play in his defense and stuff like that," said McDowell. "Then, he offered me, and he wants to see me at camp in the summer.

"Coach Saban said I was a good football player ad depending on my size, he could see me at different possible positions."

The defensive linemen, who plays several techniques, measured in at 6-foot-1 ½, 254 pounds on Saturday while on campus. A projected position still doesn't exist, but the feeling McDowell had when he realized an offer from UA was on the table was something that remains clear.

"I was just very excited and just listening to what Coach Saban was saying," he admitted. "I have a lot of respect for Coach Saban and his program, so I was just very excited.

"My coaches were telling me to just keep working hard in the classroom and preparing for next season and everything else will take care of itself."

"It was really cool to hear a coach with as much success and respect as Coach Saban tell me I was a good football player," he added.

As for the rest of the Junior Day, which ran from about 11 a.m. local time through 4 p.m., there was plenty to do in addition to the usual campus tours.

"We took a tour of the facilities and I got to meet with Coach Saban," said McDowell. "I really enjoyed their academic center, as well as their brand new weight room. I also liked how the dorms and cafeteria were. "

While everything about the day meats a lot to the class of 2014 prospect, he's not ready to make a big decision any time soon.

"I look forward to finishing my junior year and spring football, and will definitely be attending camp this summer at Alabama," he said of his plans. "I appreciated yesterday, especially spending time with Coach Saban and Coach [Burton] Burns.

Louisiana is loaded in 2014, and McDowell is the latest riser.

"I'm just taking it as it comes. I'm going to focus on my school, my team, and worry about committing after football season so I won't let all that stuff get to me."

In the meantime, McDowell will be trying to add offers and interest from schools like Texas A&M, Florida, LSU and Mississippi State in the SEC, since "that's where most of the NFL players come from." Plenty of additional work will go into his development, though it doesn't mean he has to hone in one position just yet.

"I feel like I can play wherever the team needs me to play," McDowell maintained. "Most of last year, I played the three-tech (defensive tackle), but one game coach needed me to play the zero (nose guard) and take up some blockers. I will play wherever I need to play to help my team win.

"I feel I can play some other positions, too. I played tight end on varsity my freshman year and in junior high I played fullback."

The work begins immediately.

Said McDowell, "I plan on really concentrating on my speed in addition to keep working out in the weight room before spring football. I also used to play basketball, but stopped to play football. In college, which ever school I feel most comfortable at and feel will be best for my future, I will see where the coach projects me to play and will do it, even if it's not on the D-line."

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