Recruiting, Najee Harris & more
June 29, 2020
Rodney joined host Gary Harris on Tide 100.9 in Tuscaloosa to discuss Alabama sports. Here is the interview audio and a text summary.
Alabama expecting big recruiting news
Last week, TI had an article stating that the next few weeks might be big for Tide recruiting. The report stated that July should get started with a bang when Ft. Lauderdale-St. Thomas Aquinas four-star linebacker Dallas Turner announces his decision this coming Wednesday between Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Oklahoma, among others.
"I think (Alabama's) in great shape (with Turner)," Rodney said. "I think he's a definite five-star talent, in my opinion. He's 6-3, 230+. He runs well. Very athletic. He's a guy who could come in and be a real difference-maker type of player eventually.
"I think it comes down to Alabama and Georgia. Georgia seemed to be in the lead until the last couple of months when Alabama made a really strong push.
"I think Nick Saban and his coaching staff, at this time of shutdown due to the dead period because of the virus, I think they've done a tremendous job of building relationships. We saw it (with) J.C. Latham and we saw it with Christian Leary. With Dallas Turner, I think we'll see that too."
Rodney also said that Alabama fans should expect good news from Cincinnati-LaSalle cornerback Devonta Smith today. Smith de-committed from Ohio State last week. (Note that Smith committed to Alabama this evening.)
Smith is a versatile defensive back who could play every spot in the secondary.
Tide recruiting has been strong in the dead period
Gary noted that the Alabama staff has done an excellent job of recruiting, using Zoom calls, etc, during the dead period of recruiting the last three months.
Rodney replied that all coaching staffs prefer in-person visits, but that Nick Saban is as good as any coach in the country in using technology such as video calling to sell the Alabama program to prospects and their parents.
"Some schools, I'll give you an example, I think Georgia, when they get kids on campus, family on campus, get people on campus who are influencers, that's probably their strength. All the schools want to get the kids on campus. But I just think Alabama does a better job than (most other coaching staffs) in a situation like this."
Rodney said that Saban's ability to present to recruits and their families the advantages of playing in Alabama's program is second to none.
About 2022 LB commit Robert Woodyard
Gary asked about last week's 2022 commitment from Mobile-Williamson linebacker Robert Woodyard.
"He's very instinctive, understands the game, very smart," Rodney said. "He's like Shaun Dion Hamilton, who could diagnose a play before it happened. You watch Robert Woodyard, he can do that."
Najee for Heisman?
Gary raved about Najee Harris' being in line for a big season. He mentioned that Najee might be a Heisman candidate.
"I think he is a Heisman candidate, especially with that offensive line they have," Rodney said. "He's just starting to feel (like) the Najee Harris of his high school days.
"This is an opportunity for Najee Harris to become the special player people thought he would be coming out of California a few years ago."
Rodney said that Najee has a powerful running style and has ability as a receiver, but noted that some have questioned his speed. Rodney said that the new speed program under Dr. Matt Rhea could help Najee improve his speed and quickness over the summer.
RB room is loaded
Gary asked Rodney if Alabama's current running back room might be the best in school history.
"A few years ago, Alabama had Derrick Henry, Alvin Kamara, TJ Yeldon and Kenyan Drake all on one team," Rodney said. "This running back room... Najee. Brian Robinson is a talent.
"Trey Sanders, when Nick Saban says this guy would've made a significant contribution as a freshman, that tells you a little about Trey Sanders.
"Keilan Robinson is a totally different kind of player. He's a (versatile) guy you could use in the slot (as a receiver). Very, very explosive player, a gamebreaker type.
"The three freshman (Jase McClellan, Roydell Williams and Kyle Edwards) are going to going to be fantastic eventually."