Prior to this week, every true running back prospect in the class of 2016 with an Alabama offer to his name was committed elsewhere. Scout’s top two backs, Kareem Walker and Tavien Feaster, long held UA offers but each committed within the last five weeks, to Ohio State and Clemson, respectively.
Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide had been patient since, until it moved in on Scout100 running back Antonio Williams (pictured) out of New London (N.C.) North Stanly High. Though appreciative of the scholarship offer, the 5-foot-11, 210-pounder was pleased with his verbal pledge to the Wisconsin Badgers.
At this point, all three true running back offers were now committed to other programs. Again, there was patience shown from the staff, until Monday.
First, it offered four-star Texan running back Devwah Whaley, an uncommitted four-star that has the measurables similar to recent Alabama tailbacks, at 5-foot-11, 195 pounds. There wasn’t an expectation of the news, which was delivered by Burton Burns.
"It surprised me," Whaley said. "(Recruiting) is crazy right now. I’ve already visited them in the summer.”
The Beaumont (Tex.) Central standout told Scout’s Gabe Brooks that a return trip to Tuscaloosa is the plan, though a current date hasn’t yet been set.
But Alabama’s fortune at the running back positon would also turn with Williams, a prospect it sent 93 letters to in the fall, well before offering a scholarship last week. Wisconsin running back coach, Thomas Brown, resigned from his position to take the same at his alma mater, Georgia. Williams, who was recruited by Brown and played a major role in his commitment, was floored though he is still technically on the Badgers' commitment list.
“Coach Brown left Wisconsin, so I’m definitely going to look around,” he said Monday evening. “On February 28, I’ll be at ‘Bama. I just want to get the full experience, talk to the running back coach (Burns), and talk to Coach Saban.”
The SEC has been heavy on Williams’ trail since Brown’s departure for UGA became public, and the Bulldogs are one of the other programs looking to get into the mix along with Tennessee. Mark Richt’s Bulldogs ironically already have a 2016 running back pledge from North Carolina in Morganton (N.C.) Freedom four-star B.J. Emmons.
Alabama getting Williams on campus in the next 10 days or so will be important, as Saban has since re-iterated how he is the type of running back the program wants to continue the legacy at the position. Couple it with the surprise offer to Whaley, and the Crimson Tide has two four-star targets to keep a close eye on at this juncture in the 2016 cycle.
It should also be noted that two-way standout Malik Miller, the top fullback nationally on Scout, does currently have a verbal offer from Alabama. The Madison (Ala.) Academy product can play some tailback, fullback and H-back on offense, while he projects as a linebacker should he go the defensive route at the next level at 6-foot, 229 pounds. Miller is uncommitted, and has frequented both Alabama and Auburn, which has also offered, throughout his recruitment.Miller during the 2014 state championship game.