Nick Saban talks recruiting
[dropcap]A[/dropcap]labama may have won three of the last four BCS national championships, but Nick Saban’s focus isn’t on what the Crimson Tide has accomplished.
In Orange Beach on the Alabama gulf coast earlier this week for the final stop in his “Crimson Caravan” alumni group tour, Saban made it crystal clear what his focus lies.
“Michael Jordan’s old statement is: No matter how many game-winning shots you’ve made in the past, the only one that matters is the next one,” Saban said in an interview with al.com’s Mike Herndon before the event. “Well, that’s all that matters to us.”
Saban knows the key to making those future championships a reality is attracting new talent, and he share his thoughts on several pertinent recruiting issues.
Since taking over the Tide, Saban has made a living recruiting the fertile Mobile, Ala. area — and shut out arch-rival Auburn there in the process. But Tigers assistant and Mobile native Dameyune Craig has won the battle of Mobile so far this year, landing four 2014 recruits, three of them 4-stars. Has the dynamic there has changed?
“Our focus is always on how we recruit, what we do. I’m pleased with the recruiting that we’re doing. We’ve got 12 players on our team from here. We’ve had five first-round draft picks from down here – or three, and will probably have a couple more that will add up to five. … We’re going to continue to recruit hard. We have a lot of respect for other people who recruit this area and we need to continue to do a good job in all of our areas.”
On the importance of on-campus evaluations in summer camps:
“It is our philosophy at certain positions that we really like to learn a lot about players and one of the best ways to learn about a player is when they come and visit you, because you’re limited in terms of the contact you can have with them off-campus. To get some of them to come here in the summer I think is a really big tool in evaluation as well as an opportunity to get to know guys, to see if they have the right character and attitude to fit in your program.”
On the increase in recruiting budgets:
“I found out today we have an All-American freshman team for high school players. When I played, you didn’t play as a freshman. So now, to evaluate freshmen, sophomores and juniors takes a lot more manpower, takes a lot more time and it takes a little more of a budget to get around to see everybody. I think because of the Internet and all the recruiting services, I think some of the players are easier to find but you also have to do a lot of traveling to go see them.”
On post-season high school all-star games:
“I think it’s great for the players to go do that. … We don’t think football’s a dangerous game, so we don’t worry about guys getting injured. It does happen sometimes, but I think those kinds of opportunities, those kinds of experiences for young people help them mature and actually make them better players when they get to us.”
On the recruiting posters picturing the NFL jerseys of Saban’s 111 drafted players and the 14 first-rounders from Alabama since 2009 that made rounds last week:
“We like for them to have priorities of being good people and developing a career off the field by graduating from school. But a lot of these guys want to play in the NFL. … So if guys are interested in that, I’d say our coaches and our team and our administration has done a really good job of creating an atmosphere where we do a good job of developing players.”
Photo credit: David J. Phillip / AP