Listening to Kenyan Drake explain his commitment to Alabama Monday night was like hearing a Crimson Tide coach offer a recruiting pitch.
“In my eyes, you can’t get a better offer than Alabama,” said Drake, a 6-0, 188-pound running back from Hillgrove High in Powder Springs. “They offer you top-tier academics and top-tier athletics. It’s just, like, what else can you get from a college? I decided, why wait when I already have a great feeling about Alabama?”
Drake projects as one of the top running back prospects — if not THE top running back — in the state of Georgia for the Class of 2012. I had already tabbed him for my “Tentative Ten,” my super early list of the 10 best prospects in the state for the coming season. And he was a pretty easy pick.
As a junior at Hillgrove last season, Drake accounted for nearly 1,200 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns plus another 600 yards and eight touchdowns receiving. In addition to alabama, which offered him after he attended their junior camp last month, Drake had received scholarship invitations from Georgia, Georgia Tech, Purdue and Tennessee.
But his recruitment was really just starting to get into high gear. With Drake’s reputation and production over the last couple of seasons, and the junior camp season just getting started, he probably would have ended up with a couple dozen offers at least by the start of his senior season.
That’s not what Drake wanted.
“I weighed the pros and cons of committing early and it really suited me,” Drake said. “First of all, the recruiting process was was really starting to heat up. It was almost becoming a distraction to the greater goals, which is to help my team win and keep up my grades. I could see where the frequent calls to the house and stuff could become a distraction. So I’m happy to get the recruiting process out of the way.”
Drake received the scholarship from Bama while attending its junior camp last month. He said he committed Monday night after talking things over with his father, William Drake. He first called assistant coach Kirby Smart, who gave him Nick Saban’s number. Then he let the head man know.
Both Georgia and Georgia Tech are likely feeling jilted. The Yellow Jackets, in particular, seemed well-positioned to win the recruiting battle.
Two of Drake’s best friends are brothers Synjyn Days and Jabari Hunt-Days, Hillgrove teammates who have already signed with The Institute. Synjyn is a freshman quarterback and Hunt-Days is four-star linebacker who inked with the Jackets on Feb. 2.
“I had to call [Tech assistant coach Brian] Bohannon to let him know,” Drake said. “I’ve developed a pretty close relationship with him over the last few months.”
The Bulldogs, who offered last November, identified Drake as one of their primary running back targets for 2012. He was the only back in the state they offered and one of only three overall. The others are Matt Jones of Seffner, Fla., (who may or may not have committed to Florida on Monday) and Keith Marshall of Raleigh, N.C.
But losing offensive line coach Stacy Searels to Texas hurt UGA with Drake.
“That was a factor,” Drake said. “After Coach Searels left had very little contact with Georgia. He was my regional recruiting coordinator. After he left there was like a void from Georgia.”
Drake said he may take a visit to Georgia Tech, “but just because I have a lot of friends there.” Otherwise, he plans to stick with his commitment.
“I stand by the word ‘commitment,’” Drake said. “I actually talked to Coach Saban about that tonight and he gave me the P’s and Q’s of the word commitment, especially this early. I totally understand where he was coming from. He talked about how some other schools might still recruit me. But once I commit somewhere I stand behind it. That’s just how I was raised and what I believe in. I feel like my commit is a solid one.”
It’s definitely an early one.
By Chip Towers, The College Recruiting Blog