Coming off of a 2,000-yard sophomore season, there was a sense class of 2018 Bainbridge (Ga.) running back Dameon Pierce had arrived and it would soon translate on the recruiting trail. It did, as a who's who list of college programs jumped in with scholarship offers the months following the season. It carried over into the spring and hit an apex when Alabama offered.
Area-recruiter and secondary coach Derrick Ansley was in to see the four-star running back, tabbed as a top-five back in Scout's new rankings. A few months later and Pierce is on the Crimson Tide commitment list, BamaMag confirmed Friday.
"Mostly, it came down to where I'll fit better and where I'll have more success at, and Alabama came out on top," he said. "It was long and hard but Alabama had that edge. I knew where I was going to pick and it really wasn't going to change much. I was going to have the same decision here that I was going to have two years from now, I was pretty confident so I just decided to get it out of the way now.
"It's going to take something very dramatic to change my mind."
The defending national champions were selected over a group of finalists including the in-state Georgia Bulldogs. Pierce attends UGA coach Kirby Smart's high school alma mater. Alabama's staff, long pursuing his commitment, wanted to make sure the underclassmen star knew what he was doing.
"Coach Ansley was very concerned about if I was ready, if I was sure," he said. "He wanted me to talk to my mom about it more and she just wants me to be happy. She wants to visit very soon, we have to get that arranged.
"Coach [Nick] Saban told me I'd be a great asset to their program, they run inside zone and outside zone like my high school so it won't be a hard transition for me to carry it over to Alabama. He said I'll be able to carry on the running back tradition."
Less than a month before making the pick between SEC and ACC programs like Clemson and Florida State, Pierce was in Tuscaloosa for nearly a week during UA's first prospect camp of the year. There he got intimate time with his would-be position coach.
"When I was down there coach [Burton] Burns said I'm a very good, downhill runner with great burst," he said. "He said I could make cuts smaller backs can make which makes me a very balanced back they would love to have at Alabama. We did some very 'Bama workouts, he was telling us what we needed to do. We talked a lot, he's a cool guy."
[Related: Pierce's coach breaks down his game]
After workouts concluded there was ample time to get acclimated with the campus and the program itself.
"I only did two days of the camp, the rest of the week I was talking to the athletes, walking around, looking at the campus, asking the athletes inside questions such as what classes are good to take, what college life is like," Pierce said. "I got a first-hand look at the workout program, I was in there while they were working out, running, and just talking to coaches and getting acquainted with the program."
Georgia, which he says was second for his services, hosted him the week prior. UGA, FSU, Clemson and others are still likely to host one of the top rising-juniors in the country, but for now the pressure is off.
"It's relieving because there's a lot of pressure on you deciding what college you want to go to, all the research you have to do to figure it out," Pierce said. "I've done my research and waited long for the most part, so everything is calm now. I'm getting a lot of praise from my mom and my family and everyone is telling me they're still support me, which is really what it's all about."