Alex Leatherwood (Photo by Chad Simmons)

Alabama Commit Alex Leatherwood is a five-star OL who is still looking at other schools

It is never easy to take a five star away from Alabama, but schools are not giving up and Alex Leatherwood is still exploring other options...

His official visit to Michigan a week and a half ago put him back in the headlines.

Alabama commit Alex Leatherwood raved about his trip to Ann Arbor (Mich.) saying he "loved" his time there.

The 6-foot-6, 315 pound five-star offensive tackle of Pensacola (Fla.) Booker T. Washington committed to the Crimson Tide June 2, but he has never completely shutdown his recruitment.  He took visits to AuburnFloridaMiami and USC over the summer after committing to Nick Saban.

He has taken in games at Auburn and Michigan so far this fall with a trip to Georgia planned for this weekend.  One official visit is down, Leatherwood knows he will be in Tuscaloosa (Ala.) for his official visit to the school he is committed to November 26, the weekend of the Iron Bowl, and he plans to set the final three official visits in the coming weeks.

That visit to Michigan really shook things up a bit for the No. 18 prospect in the country.

"I would say things are a little different since I took that visit," said Leatherwood.  "I am still committed to Alabama, and things have not changed that much, but I do see I have other good opportunities.

"The strength of my commitment is a little less than what it was, but I do still feel good about it. I am a little more open to schools now than I was, but I am still committed."

During the visit to Michigan, Alabama made sure Leatherwood knew he was, as he has been, very important to them.

"Alabama was texting me and messaging me while I was on my visit.  They did not wait for me to leave Michigan, they were on me before I left.  They have never slowed down their recruiting of me.

"I am always talking to someone on the coaching staff.  It is not just one coach, but most of the coaches including coach Saban speaks with me. 

"I have a great relationship with the coaches at Alabama, and that is one of the things that keeps me committed to them.  They have great coaches and they have a great program.  It is hard not to like Alabama."

After his trip up north, many are starting to see Michigan as a legit threat to the Crimson Tide.  Leatherwood said the two schools really compared to one another and about a week after returning home, his feelings are still strong about the Wolverines.

"Michigan really had everything I wanted to see and during the visit, things just clicked up there," said Leatherwood.  "I spent a lot of time with coach [Tim] Drevno (offensive line) and coach [Jim] Harbaugh, and both me and my dad really like both of them.

"They both made me feel comfortable, they made me feel wanted and they made me feel important.  The whole program offers a lot and I saw that during my visit.

"I can say that visit really opened my eyes more."

Now there is a chance that Leatherwood returns on his own dime to Ann Arbor once more before he enrolls at the school of his choice in January.  He said the visit could happen during or after the season.

"I just want to get back up there to see things once again," Leatherwood said about Michigan. "The official visit was great, but I would like to get even more of a feel of things on my own time.  I would like more time with the coaches, to see things again, and just see if there anymore questions I need to get answered.

"If I can get there during the season, I will, but it may be after the season before I have the time to visit Michigan again."

Next up for Leatherwood is Georgia.  It will be his first trip to Athens (Ga.) and this is really the Dawgs' chance to impress Leatherwood as they hope to lock in one of his three remaining official visits.

"I talked to coach [Sam] Pittman (offensive line) and he just wants me to come up this weekend to give them a chance. He told me that I would not regret making the trip, so I am going to check them out."

At this time, Georgia has some work to do to be considered a true threat to Alabama, but this weekend could change that.  Michigan has been in the news due to the official visit, but the in-state school, Florida is considered by many to be Alabama's biggest threat.  

Leatherwood did not deny that.

"I am still considering the three in-state schools, Florida, Florida State and Miami, but Florida is the one recruiting me the hardest and the one I am talking to the most right now," said Leatherwood.  "I have visited Florida a few times and I am still looking at them.

"I stay in touch with just about the whole staff.  I talk with coach Nuss (Offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier), coach [Mike] Summers (offensive line) and coach [Jim] McElwain.  We all talk, text and stay in touch.

"They talk to me about their need for offensive linemen, how I should stay home and represent the home state and things like that.  I will definitely be visiting them again."

For now, the first official visit is behind him.  Michigan impressed.  Alabama has theirs locked in late in November, just weeks before Leatherwood graduates high school.  Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Miami and USC are the main schools in the running for those final three coveted official visits.

Do any of the schools standout in that group?  If so, it would likely be the Trojans.  The others are close to home, located in the South, and schools not too far from Leatherwood's home.  Do not rule USC out.  He has been there before.

"When I went to USC over the summer, I loved it.  I talk to coach [Neil] Callaway (offensive line) about twice a week right now.  They have an opportunity to play early and I am looking to get back out there.  I love the campus, I love the weather and it is a school I am still interested in."

A final decision for Leatherwood has to be made a little earlier than most of the other prospects in the 2017 class.  He graduates in December, then enrolls at his school of choice in January.  Alabama has the lead now, and taking a top prospect away from the Crimson Tide has not been easy since Saban took over.

Leatherwood has made it clear that he will take visits and that he is exploring his options.  The Alabama coaches are aware, so are they worried?

"Everything is essentially the same with Alabama," said Leatherwood.  "They have not mentioned it to me if they are worried.  When I have talked to them lately, it has been nothing out of the normal."


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