The other day, I had a brief post about North Atlanta High School RB Justin Taylor, and his recruiting situation at Alabama. On National Signing Day, there was good news for Taylor after all. Instead of sitting at home for a year (an idea so ridiculous I can’t believe anyone would actually suggest it) or “grayshirting”, a process wherein a student athlete enrolls in school at his own expense, and joins the football team and is on scholarship in the spring semester, Justin Taylor signed the National Letter of Intent, and will enroll at the University of Kentucky this fall.
This piece from the AJC is really good, and after this whole sordid mess, it serves as a delightful palate cleanser. Both Taylor and his coach, Stanley Pritchett, were interviewed, and they seemed to pull no punches. Said Pritchett of the handling of Taylor’s offer:
“If you look back on it, you see that it was a numbers game [with scholarships], that Alabama really wanted to sit out because of the numbers,” Pritchett said. “It kind of makes you mad, but you also feel good that he didn’t go there. Because if he had gone to Alabama, he would’ve probably just have been another number.”
Pritchett’s absolutely right on this. Saban was skittish about giving Taylor a scholarship after a knee injury, but he didn’t want anybody else to get him either. Even though Taylor ended up in a better situation (even if it’s on a worse football team), he doesn’t seem to have forgiven anyone too quickly.
“The way they talked to me, they respected me … but as far as pulling the scholarship, I think they did me wrong. I was the No. 7 to commit, that’s all I’ve got to say. I was committed to them for a year. They could’ve handled it better.”
I don’t think you’ll find too many people that disagree with that assessment. I wish Justin the best of luck at Kentucky, and I hope his story will serve as a cautionary tale for future recruits to not believe everything a recruiter says.
As for Saban, don’t expect him to change his tune anytime soon. At his press conference Wednesday, Saban had this to say:
“It was much more difficult management, to hit the number and not going over at all,” Saban said. “I think sometimes, for whatever reasons … there seems to be so much of a negative reaction to this whole idea of what y’all call gray-shirting.”
I can just about guarantee that we’ll see this situation again. Hopefully, it will work itself out as it did here.