The class of 2014 is not very deep at the offensive line positions within the Yellowhammer State, but a few prospects are beginning to separate themselves from others. In that group is Hayden (Ala.) junior Tyler Swindle, who has added mass to his frame in the offseason en route to more interest from top SEC schools, including Alabama.
He was on campus Wednesday to take in spring practice and get a bit closer to potential position coach Mario Cristobal, the newest member of the Crimson Tide staff.
"Talking with Cristobal was the best thing," Swindle said of the visit. "I talked to Coach [Nick] Saban briefly, he said it looked like I beefed up a little bit and I liked that. He wants me to come back to visit for a scrimmage. But with Cristobal, he seems like such a down to earth guy."
"You can't tell that he coaches one of the best teams ever, he acts like the deacon at my church that I've known for 15 years," he continued on the coach. "Coach [Lance] Thompson came up to me when I was about to leave and told me Cristobal was there looking for me. He (Cristobal) came up and grabbed me like, "hey boy!" like I've been playing football with his son or something.
"It's just a good feeling; he didn't have to look at my nametag to know who I am, he was talking to me when I walked in."
Cristobal's impact on Swindle was reflective of his latest trip to Tuscaloosa.
"You can't beat the hospitality around there," he added.
But everything about the experience came back to Cristobal in the eyes of the 6-foot-5, 298 pounder.
"I think he's awesome, I only met with(Former OL coach) [Jeff] Stoutland a few times, and I think he's a great coach, but I'm already more inclined to Cristobal because of his personality," he admitted. "I mean he's loud, not as loud as Coach [Scott] Cochran, but he's real loud."
Not only was his personality on full display, but his actions with the offensive linemen made an impression as well.
"Watching how active he was with them, it made me happy," said Swindle. "Sometimes it's all grad assistants putting the players through drills while the coaches are standing up on a sky-lift watching and blowing a whistle.
"Cristobal is under the chute, running his hands and hitting dummies. He's really animated and really energetic. I don't know if he had 10 Red Bulls before practice, but he was fired up."
The rest of the day, particularly focusing on the trenches, was about the way the Alabama offensive linemen carried themselves. It humbled Swindle.
"For some reason, I feel comfortable around other SEC lines, I'm the same size across the board," the junior explained. "But Alabama's line is so intimidatingly big. Standing beside [Cyrus] Kouandijo, it blows my mind…his football presence is 7-foot-5 and 400 pounds.
"And the team looked great, I know Saban will say they need to work harder and all, but they looked really good top to bottom."
As for his recruitment, in which he has yet to pull in his first offer, Swindle feels that many schools are close. Alabama has said a strong camp performance will likely lead to their extension, something echoed by Ole Miss and others. With that in mind, a decision timetable does not exist.
But priorities at a school of choice do.
"I always said I'd wait until signing day," he said of his eventual decision. "Alabama is my dream school, but it's my dream school to play for. It's nobody's dream to ride the pine. If it comes down to it and they say, "if you keep working hard, you'll see playing time if you beat out a few guys"…this guy will be committing to Alabama if it all works out."