The Alabama Crimson Tide has tracked former Scout four-star defensive lineman Emmit Gooden, now at Independence (Kans.) Community College, since high school. He picked up the scholarship offer last summer as a member of the class of 2018 and Nick Saban reaffirmed it late last month.
On Saturday, the now 6-foot-4, 315-pounder returned to Tuscaloosa for the first time in about a calendar year and the head coach remained heavy on his trail.
"Just to have him in the picture and in the mix of recruiting, that's the advantage they got over everybody," he said of Saban following the visit. "I'm not only going to be a guy there, they need defensive lineman and they're taking one JUCO defensive lineman. They want it to be me.
"I just feel blessed and privileged to be that guy."
The sales pitch, at least on the field, is a simple one.
"They're losing (Da'Shawn) Hand and possibly (Daron) Payne to the draft, they're very thin on the D-line," Gooden said. " Having him recruiting me and showing me that interest, that is a blessing right there. That gives them a certain advantage over the other schools."
It wasn't all about the head man, though, as time was spent with defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt and defensive line coach Karl Dunbar during his time in town. He was one of a few prospects on campus to take an unofficial visit while the program held its specialist camp.
"I met with coach Pruitt, coach Dunbar, rest of the staff, and saw some of the things I hadn't seen before while being there," Gooden said. "But the highlight was actually sitting down in Nick Saban's office and having the meeting with him. I feel like it was a big advantage, there.
"Nick Saban said I can play all three down-lineman positions."
Off of the field, the academic presentation was nearly as impactful on one of the most coveted defensive line prospects in the junior college ranks.
"I'm very interested, I've long known about the tradition, it's a powerhouse tradition, but the school itself, too," he said. "The education is second to none, they have over 100 tutors for football. You can't fail at Alabama. All the resources are there to help you graduate and be a better person in life.
"That plays a part in it as well."
Gooden, who wants to soon return to Tuscaloosa, will look to cut his list of well over a dozen scholarship offers in the coming weeks. He previously told Scout Oklahoma and Alabama are the two programs he knows will make the cut for his services, while Oklahoma State, LSU, Mississippi State, Arkansas and Memphis remain under consideration as well.
Following the cut he will take official visits ahead of a decision. The rising sophomore prospect will have three seasons to play two following the 2017 season.