Alabama football is something that sells itself to most teenagers looking to play at the next level, so when it hosts a Junior Day event less than three weeks after the previous senior class signs on to play for the Crimson Tide, big numbers should be expected.
Over 100 underclassmen, mostly juniors, flocked to Tuscaloosa for the Junior Day on Saturday, but Alabama was bust the night before in the recruiting game. In the middle of the day, Nick Saban and company offered a scholarship to Cannon Smith, a smooth tight end out of Columbia, South Carolina. He's already committed to Clemson and has several ties to the Tigers, yet the Alabama offer is something he's giving deeper thought since it came down.
"Alabama offered me on Friday," he told BamaMag.com.
Did it affect his current verbal commitment?
"I don't know yet," Smith added.
An offer from the national power that is Alabama can shake up things in many ways. Later on Friday night, linebacker Shaun Hamilton visited campus. He is a rising junior, but had previously told the Auburn staff that he was headed to its Junior Day, also taking place on Saturday. It didn't mean the three-star couldn't make a pit stop in T-town, and it quickly became worth it as Nick Saban offered him a scholarship before he took off to Auburn.
Though a pair of known offers went out on Friday, Saturday's Junior Day was the major pull of the weekend. Going into it, the headliners were five-star defensive back Tony Brown and four-star defensive line talent Elisha Shaw. Each was short and sweet in their attempt to describe their trips to The Capstone.
Tony Brown is the top CB in the country on Scout.
Brown, by all accounts, saw the most attention out of every prospect that was in Tuscaloosa.
"The visit went great!!" said Brown via text message.
Shaw took to Twitter to share his opinion.
"I loved my Alabama trip...loved it," he posted.
Many juniors came into the event looking for offers, but only seven class of 2014 prospects left Tuscaloosa with a verbal offer on the table. The most notable, and perhaps most worthy, was the offer that went out to four-star quarterback Tyler Harris. Though big (6-4, 210 lbs), with a strong arm and a good tape out, Alabama was the first program to pull the trigger.
"I was a little surprised by the offer, but not that much since they've shown a lot of interest in me," he admitted soon after leaving Tuscaloosa on Saturday. "But it's unreal to get an offer from a school like Alabama, I have a lot of interest in them."
Another offer that had that full-circle feel was that of Samaje Perine, the three-star running back that preps in Texas though originally from Jackson, Alabama. The hometown offer allowed UA to catch up to his then-favorite Oklahoma in the recruiting process.
"It's close between 'Bama and OU," he admitted Saturday night. "It's because they (Alabama) offered and Coach (Saban) was talking to me about how they only have a few standouts on campus."
As it did for Smith and Perine, Alabama offering shook up the top of the favorites list for two-way athlete Koda Martin. The Texan was offered before the drive home, and it enabled ‘Bama to crack his top five. Also like Perine, he's deciding sooner than later.
The remainder of the juniors that left town with a scholarship offer represent Alabama's need to continue to create depth at its most critical positions, the defensive front-seven. The first offer we knew about was that of Matt Elam, who was extended as a nose guard. Saban and co. wanted him in the building sooner than most prospects to deliver the good news.
It went a long way.
"It was a dream come true," said Elam. "It was amazing to get the offer, they're one of the best programs in the nation."
A pair of versatile defensive end/outside linebacker types left T-town with a verbal offer on the table. It led Jacob Pugh to placing Alabama on the top of his early list, and it did the same for Garrald McDowell.
McDowell has Alabama atop his early list.
"Yesterday was an exciting day for me visiting Alabama for the first time with my coaches," he said on Sunday. "It was great getting that offer from Alabama. That offer really put them at the top on my list."
Kenny Young, a linebacker, was the final class of 2014 prospect to earn the UA offer on Junior Day. His extension was provided by Saban.
"He talked about how I've gotten much bigger than last time he saw me; said I'm a great linebacker, and that I need to continue working on my lower body and change of direction," said Young.
The juniors pulled in several offers, as expected, but he biggest stories from Junior Day came from some of the select few underclassmen that were invited to the event. Headlining the list, perhaps for the entire weekend, was the only prospect to commit to Alabama while on campus.
Deionte Thompson, a versatile defensive back, knew Alabama was the place for him and he let Saban know before heading back to Texas.
"I just have always loved their defense," said the sophomore. "Alabama believes highly in the defense just like we do at West Orange (High). Plus, Coach Saban works with the DB's, so I'm being recruited as a safety. It's going to be fun working with Coach Saban."
Another sophomore picked up an offer from Alabama while on campus.
"It was an unbelievable feeling when I got the offer from Alabama, but there is still a long way to go," said Drew Richmond, a big offensive tackle prospect from Memphis.
But the youngest prospect, and one of the youngest prospects on record to receive any offer, stole the headlines into this week and it's created a national buzz surrounding his name. Dylan Moses, a current eighth grade student from Baton Rouge, La., followed up an offer from LSU with one from Alabama. Saban handed this one out as well.
Moses became a national story after UA offered.
"I kept looking at Coach Saban's championship rings when we all met with him;" Moses admitted. "Coach [Burton] Burns explains stuff very well and has a great sense of humor."
Alabama's scholarship offer that went out Friday weren't to Junior Day participants, but they went out to juniors. Another 2014 athlete that couldn't make the event picked one up later on Saturday. It was big offensive tackle Jovan Pruitt, another Texan that now has Alabama near the top of his list. Saban is the biggest factor piquing his interest.
"Their head coach," he said. "And they get the job done down there. They've won three of the last four BCS (championship) games. "I'll give a top five of 'Bama, Notre Dame, UT, OU and Baylor."
Below is the complete list of Alabama offers that went out over the weekend (Friday-Sunday).
Class of 2014
* 4-star QB Tyler Harris - 6-foot-4, 210 lbs | Pierce County HS (Blackshear, GA)
* 3-star RB Samaje Perine - 6-foot, 215 lbs | Hendrickson HS (Pflugerville, TX)
* 3-star LB Kenny Young - 6-foot-2, 225 lbs | John Curtis Christian (River Ridge, LA)
* 3-star TE Koda Martin - 6-foot-5, 235 lbs | Manvel HS (Manvel, TX)
* 3-star TE Cannon Smith - 6-foot-5, 230 lbs | Hammond School (Columbia, SC)
* 3-star LB Shaun Dion Hamilton - 6-foot-1, 222 lbs | Carver HS (Montgomery, AL)
* 3-star OT Jovan Pruitt - 6-foot-6, 295 lbs | Bishop Dunne HS (Dallas, TX)
* DT/OL Matt Elam - 6-foot-6, 300 lbs | John Hardin HS (Elizabethtown, KY)
* DE Jacob Pugh - 6-foot-4, 210 lbs | Godby HS (Tallahassee, FL)
* DE Garrald McDowell - 6-foot-2, 254 lbs | Covington HS (Covington, LA)
Class of 2015
* DB Deionte Thompson – 6-foot-2, 180 lbs | West Orange-Stark HS (Orange, TX) *Committed to Alabama*
* OL Drew Richmond – 6-foot-6, 290 lbs | Memphis University School (Memphis, TN)
Class of 2017
* RB Dylan Moses – 6-foot-1, 215 lbs | University Lab (New Orleans, LA)