When the top player in the recruiting class of 2017 committed to Alabama Crimson Tide in April 2015, he made it a point to mention his mother. Tianna Hicks, who was making her first Tuscaloosa trip with son and Antioch (Calif.) standout Najee Harris, gave the program her blessing.
Ms. Hicks detailed more on that trip recently with BamaMag, including her first impression of Nick Saban.
She was intimidated, initially.
"He’s still cool, very cool. He answered all of our questions," Hicks told A.P. Steadham. "As a matter of fact, I didn’t really have to ask many questions because when you’re going on a tour, the staff is so great at putting it out there, things that I may wanna ask already. They were asked before I could open my mouth."
Harris had been to Tuscaloosa once before, learning of the scholarship offer well before he would be in consideration for the top spot in the rankings. He's stuck with the Crimson Tide ever since and the assistant coach deserving of the most credit for his solidity remains area-recruiter Tosh Lupoi.
"(Lupoi) was the first person I met, I think he was," she said. "It started off with the coaches making the contact. Then when I came out to visit, that’s when I met Tosh. Tosh is cool, he’s a Cali-guy. He’s cool, he’s like fam, like family, I wanna say because he knows how we are.
"He just kept it real with us, which was what we liked. None of the fake stuff…"
With schools from coast to coast courting her son, it was the approach of Alabama's staff and the city's charm that helped sell her. Harris pulled the trigger soon after.
"The first visit had me sold, I told them, ‘you can have my son,’" Hicks said. "I love their respect, I love how everyone is so friendly. I love saying Mr. so and so, yes sir, no sir. It just started happening, you just fall in line. I love their respect.
"It’s a beautiful city, it reminded me of the Berkeley area. The campus, maybe, sort of reminds me of it. But it’ still got that Southern twang, too, and the houses along the side...like you know you’re in the South still."
After reflecting on the initial trip and detailing the second time she was in Tuscaloosa, this summer for the Nick Saban Football Camp, perhaps a final trip to town before Harris begins college was confirmed.
"We’re going to make that one of our officials," Hicks said. "We will be out there for our official."