'Just something different about Alabama'

Alabama, like many programs, has made no secret that South Florida is a recruiting territory it wants to make a priority in every recruiting class. With the amount of talent and competition there, it has also led to recruiting earlier and earlier in the process. Freshman Robert Burns, who was just offered by Alabama, is the latest example and he breaks things down inside.

Few high school freshman enjoy the exposure, success and attention that Robert Burns got in 2013. The 5-foot-11, 2015-pound running back started at talent-right Miami (Fla.) Gulliver Prep and has been considered a top recruit in South Florida ever since.

As he explained on Friday, however, his recruitment hit the next level when one of the nation's top programs jumped in the race for his services with a verbal scholarship offer.

"I was just talking to my coach, I went in his office and he told me I got the offer from Alabama. I was just excited, super excited. I was smiling, the coaches were all giving me handshakes," he said laughing. "I knew for the longest that they had interest, I've spoken to the offensive line coach and Miami recruiter (Mario Cristobal). He's a funny guy, he told me the offensive linemen there are huge…

‘Imagine running behind the great wall of China.'

Cristobal's pitch, the program he now coaches at and the success it has makes for a compelling option for Burns, one he says is not like some of the many offers he already has including Florida State, Ohio State, Tennessee, Clemson, Wisconsin and several more.

"There's just something different about Alabama, for sure," he said. "Just their long legacy of running backs, the guys they've been able to produce, the guys they've been able to put in the league, I think they have a long legacy of great backs."

The intrigue of Alabama, which has also offered Guller standouts Dominic Sheppard in 2015 and elite duo Cedrick Wright and Dionte Mullins in 2016, has the standouts planning a trip to Tuscaloosa.

"We'll be in T-town this summer, actually," he said. "It will be just a visit. I just want to see what kind of academics they have there, what kind of support I can get in the classroom, what kind of campus life they have.

"The dream school will have a great campus life, great academic support whether it's tutors, a great class or a program I can get involved in. A great business program as well, that's what I want to study in the future."

Burns, though hot on the trail off his freshman tape, says he's much different from the prospect seen on Hudl or Youtube. His self-evaluation skill and progression has led to the offers, and Alabama has reiterated that to him.

"Just the physicality that I play with, the mental part of the game and being able to watch film and figure out exactly what I did wrong or right in the past," he said of his strengths. "But I have to make it clear that the guy in my highlight is a totally different back, that was six or seven months ago – I've evolved a lot.

"I play with a lot more explosiveness, a lot more tempo and mental toughness."

With many national offers already in hand, and more seemingly on the way, the class of 2017 standout will take his time with the recruiting game.

"I'm open to the process, just trying to learn as much as I can about each and every school," he said. "I need to see what sets this school and that school apart so I can know, when the day comes, how to make a decision."

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