Charles Baldwin, a Scout.com four-star junior college offensive tackle prospect from ASA College in Brooklyn, NY, committed to the Alabama program on Friday in Nick Saban’s office during a recent multi-day visit to Tuscaloosa. The 6-6, 305 pound Windsor (Conn.) High School product will be the first ever scholarship football student-athlete to Bama hailing from the Nutmeg State.
’BAMA Magazine/BamaMag.com spoke with his high school coach. Interestingly enough, Coach Rob Fleeting has Alabama roots of his own although he has yet to set foot in the state. His father is from Luverne.
The business-like personality of his former player bodes well for someone devoted to achieving lofty goals under the tutelage of Nick Saban. “He has a world of potential,” said Fleeting. “He has a tremendous work ethic on-the-field and in the weight room.” Baldwin’s mental and physical maturation journey is continuous. A junior year epiphany resulted in adhering to a more nutritious diet and a regimented workout schedule. He squats 600 pounds and bench presses 475.
Fleeting said, “He is really driven to be successful. He loves the game of football. Football drives him.”
Although an imposing force with an aggressive nature on the field, Baldwin is cautious and reserved away from the action. Conversations with those outside the circle of family, friends, and coaches are guarded until he develops a comfortable relationship.
Fleeting said, “The game of football has opened up his eyes to the life. It has made him want to do things to help other people and be a better person. He calls me all the time. He is very respectful to people who he knows that are there to help him.”
Baldwin is single-minded and determined. “He wants to please his coaches and do well for people,” Fleeting said. “I know he is going to do great things. He is a competitor. He doesn’t care who is lined up across him.”
Baldwin is a two-time member (2013 and 2012) of the All-Courant (Hartford) offensive team and 2013 Connecticut High School Coaches Association first-team Class L offensive line selection. The 2014 Windsor graduate entered the Warriors program as a freshman becoming a two-way lineman and three-year varsity member. Immediately he embraced the philosophy and training schedule suggested by the coaching staff.
“We told him to have a schedule,” said Fleeting. “Be in the weight room every day. Try to be a better student and person. He totally bought into our program.”
Baldwin persistently peppers his coach for ways to develop and improve. Nick Saban promotes a master plan involving personal development for every player. He should be a perfect candidate to absorb all the information available for those seeking guidance.
Northeastern schools UConn and UMass showed interested initially but grades were an issue. He transformed his body physically but required an equivalent change academically to gain eligibility to an FBS school; hence, junior college was the viable option.
Prior to Baldwin leaving for New York Fleeting said, “I told Charles he had the potential to be one of the best linemen in the country.”
Delaying the choice proved to be beneficial. National suitors from the Power Five Conferences flocked to extend offers. Georgia, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Miami, Michigan State, Ole Miss and Virginia Tech were among the other strong contenders.
Baldwin, expected to enroll at Alabama in January, has played one year at ASA College and should graduate in December with three years of eligibility to play two. The junior college signing period begins December 16, ending January 15, 2016. Tide offensive line coach, Mario Cristobal, contacted Fleeting as a courtesy to inform him Alabama would be extending an offer.
The bright lights and big stage panache of the Southeastern Conference may intimidate some, especially if they are from a relatively small state not known for producing FBS level football players. Fleeting believes his pupil, a nimble footed right tackle coming from a spread offense, can play either bookend and is prepared and eager to perform. “I don’t think he has hit his ceiling yet,” the coach said. “He is going to try to do what is right but like any 20-21 year old kid, he will probably make some mistakes. But he is very focused to do the right thing. He is going to a great place (Alabama) so that he can continue to grow.” Recruits living in every corner of the nation from Hawaii to California to New York and points in between have ventured South to experience the mystique of Alabama football. The Capstone of Alabama appears to be the perfect place to prosper even for a Connecticut born and bred football player taking a risk beyond the borders of “The Land of Steady Habits”.