The summer camp explosion for four-star Pensacola (Fla.) Booker T. Washington offensive lineman Alex Leatherwood started in Tuscaloosa, when he spent several days camping in front of Mario Cristobal and company en route to the scholarship offer.
But Saturday was Leatherwood’s first game experience at Bryant-Denny Stadium, taking in the Ole Miss showdown with a bevy of fellow UA commitments. It was his second SEC West visit of the season.
“It was great, those fans blew Mississippi State (fans) out of the water,” he said. “There’s nothing like prime time in Tuscaloosa, it’s absolutely amazing. Energy everywhere.”
The hype of the game, following Ole Miss’ 2014 upset of the Crimson Tide and its torrid start to 2015, created high expectations for many recruits in attendance. Like it was for the junior commitment, most expectations were exceeded.
“I always had heard tales and stories,” he said with a laugh. “But there’s nothing like being there in person. The best part was indy (individual drills) and kickoff because I got to see players like Derrick Henry, Ryan Kelly and Cam Robinson up close and watch the OL and DL do one-on-ones. It was amazing.
“It was a good game, I was very disappointed at the way ‘Bama played. They didn’t execute and dominate like they were supposed to do. They played like they didn’t care or something. But I know that loss woke them up and they now know it’s time for business. #StriveFor16.”
Speaking to UA staff before kick, Leatherwood says they reiterated how excited they are about his arrival and potential role in the class of 2017. Couple the communication with the atmosphere of Saturday night, growing familiarity with the program including potential future teammates and a once shaky commitment status seems to be heading in the other direction.
“Very firm,” he said of his current pledge status.
Still considering trips to LSU, Florida State, Florida and Ole Miss at some point this fall, he won’t hit the road again very soon.
“I actually decided to take a break, for a long while,” he said. “I don’t want to get caught up in all the hype and glamour. I could be using that time to be working harder, getting better.”
The mindset could also be attributed to Booker T. Washington High’s not so great start to their own 2015 campaign.
“We aren’t doing well,” Leatherwood said. “We have been struggling offensively and fell to 0-4 last week. I’ve learned that adversity is going to come in many forms in life but it’s about what you do after the losses that really defines true character. That’s why every day I work harder and harder to be great.”