Mom Knows Best: Chris Bonds
"It can be overwhelming at times," Mrs. Miller said of recruiting. "There's so much involved in it like travel, meeting so many people, having to be cordial to them all, when you get back home it's hard to remember everything."
"You need to be organized. There are times when you literally have to drop everything and go."
Chris Bonds, from Columbia, SC's Richland Northeast High School, started being recruited by schools during his freshman year. Word would spread quickly about his talent and by his junior year, Bonds was hearing from as many as 30 different schools with offers.
"We do feel like we could write a book about it," says Mrs. Miller laughing. "We did plenty of research online, but there isn't enough information out there to fully prepare parents and players for the ins-and-outs for what's in store for them."
"It's an important decision, and one that needs to be made carefully because it's going to affect their future. I saw some of the players at different schools and camps and their parents were never there with them and wondered how they would ever be able to make the decision by themselves."
Looking back, Ginger Miller reflects fondly when the offers first starting coming in for Chris.
"It was like a dream come true," she said. "It was so exciting. The coaches recruiting him treated Chris and us so well. It was overwhelming."
Unfortunately, Chris suffered some injuries. He suffered a torn meniscus in his knee and played sparing as a senior. Despite the injury, Bonds was still selected to play in the U.S. All-American game.
"The only negative that I had with the whole process was schools keeping their word after Chris injury," said Mrs. Miller. "Some of them didn't keep their word, but Alabama stood by Chris and never faltered."
"With a few schools the offers went away, but Alabama said (the injury) was never an issue, and that played a big part in Chris's final decision."
The big names were all there for Chris to choose from like Notre Dame, Tennessee, Florida State, Miami, in-state school South Carolina. Chris's offer sheet read like a virtual Who's Who of big-time football programs even with a few schools backing off.
"We decided as a group after his official visits," said Ginger Miller. "We made a list of pros and cons on a sheet of paper, and with Alabama we couldn't find one negative."
The positives were many for Chris and his family.
"We felt like the Alabama campus was a good distance to where he could be away and grow up, but still be close enough to come home when he wanted to," Mrs. Miller explained.
"The coaching staff is excellent. They turned into family. Coach Burton Burns (Bonds primary recruiter) we started calling him "Uncle" Burns. I had a gut feeling that my child would be well taken care of there."
"He wants to study Engineering, and they have a great program at Alabama. He's (Saban) really about developing character and bringing out the best in the players as students because he wants them to become successful adults because we know football doesn't last forever."
Ginger Miller grew up in Knoxville and lives in Columbia, so she knows a thing or two about SEC football.
"We went to the spring game and had a good time," she said.
However, when she accompanies Chris to Tuscaloosa this time on June 2nd he'll be staying.
"That's a sensitive subject," she commented. "I'm having a hard time with that right now."
She plans to join Chris with his step-father and attend parent orientation at UA.
"He's going to be fine as he starts another phase in his life," says Mrs. Miller reflectively. "I'm making plans right now for games so we can come see him."
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