Richie Petitbon didn't waste much time during his trip to Alabama on Friday. The four-star Washington (D.C.) Gonzaga College High talent took in the campus and let Nick Saban know he wanted to play for the Crimson Tide in his office soon after.
The junior, ranked as the No. 6 offensive guard prospect on Scout.com, is the third four-star on the current class of 2015 commitment list. At 6-foot-4, 301 pounds, however, Gonzaga High Coach Aaron Brady thinks he can do a bit of everything at the next level, both on and off the field.
"He brings leadership, he brings a work ethic, there's a family history on the O-line there, too," he said. "At the end of the day, football will take care of itself, but he's a really good student but an even better person than football player. That's a tribute to the football program.
"When Coach Saban called me to talk about this, about the commitment, those are the kind of kids you want. It's a tribute to our school, at Gonzaga."
The recruiting process created a lot of opportunity for Petitbon, but it's the status and rare chance to play at Alabama that put things over the top for the Tide.
"In this process, Richie has seen a lot of schools, met a lot of coaches," Brady said. "Lance Thompson, first-class, as good as it gets. He's the recruiter for our area, and Mario Cristobal, same deal, he's the O-line coach. Moreso than just saying ‘I'm going to play at Alabama, the top of the country right now,' it's about who are you playing for?
"The one thing Saban does, he does a great job working with the kids, creating the team concept, working for what it takes to be the best. The SEC is the best conference in football, and everyone has good players, but to be good every year? He finds a way to cultivate those kids and get them to reach their potential. So with Richie, why wouldn't he want to go there if he has the opportunity to do so?"
The 2015 talent did, and it wasn't much of a surprise to anyone who tracked his recruitment.
"I think Richie kind of knew where he wanted to go, for a while," the coach said. "I'm not sure what went on, but he has the opportunity to play for some excellent coaches and in the best league in the country. At the end of the day, it is what he brings to the program and how he can maximize his talents."
With Alabama in such good shape for such a long time, it would be a shock to see him continue the recruiting process at all, Brady says. It's the way the staff at Gonzaga makes it known to recruits fortunate enough to go through the process.
Maryland was mentioned as the school the Crimson Tide beat out for his pledge.
"He's done, around here, once you make a decision we're going to live with that," he said. "We don't want to play that game, and we don't want colleges to play that game with us. That's a big problem now, people can get offers and get out of offers. That's why you have to make sure you know where you want to go and feel good about it.
"Richie is a leader, and he's a humble kid. What I love about him is family. That's one of the reasons (he committed to Alabama). When he went to Alabama with Saban's staff, he felt like it was a family there. He felt like he was part of something, so his commitment came as a part of that."
As for what type of athlete fans in Tuscaloosa will see for the next few seasons, Petitbon brings more than meets the eye.
"The thing about Richie, is that he is a really good athlete" Brady said. "He has really good ball skills. He scored eight goals in a lacrosse game this week, it was a school record. It's amazing for a guy that's 300 pounds, and he's out there ballin'.
"He's probably going to end up being a guard, but he's athletic enough to play tackle. A lot of schools at that level have measurements, and to play tackle you have to have this measurement and this wingspan. Can he do it? Yes. He has really good feet, he's a really good athlete. He can play center, guard or tackle. He's a really cerebral player, he takes things in, he cares."
On the heels of perhaps the top offensive line class ever brought in by one program, the Crimson Tide has a trio of top-16 rated guards on the commitment list already, with Dallas Warmack and Lester Cotton joining Petitbon to this point among nine overall pledges.
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