UPDATE: Justin Taylor still pledged to Alabama for 2013 but considering options
Nick Saban told Justin Taylor's coach he didn't like the NCAA's new 25-scholarship rule (AP)
Here are Monday’s updates on Justin Taylor:
He’s the running back from North Atlanta High School who has been committed to Alabama for nearly a year but was told by Nick Saban this weekend that he can’t sign with the Crimson Tide until 2013. Go here to read the recap.
The 5-foot-10, 208-pound Taylor is considering the option of signing with another school in two weeks, according to multiple media reports, although it’s unclear on whether or not Taylor is still committed to Alabama for 2013. Here’s what Taylor told al.com’s Matt Scalici:
“At first I was cool with it but the more I thought about it, the less I liked it,” Taylor said. “I have already missed an entire season of football because of my injury. I decided I just can’t miss another season. It’s no hard feelings against Alabama but I just decided it’s best for me if I go somewhere that I can be at least practicing with the team this year, even if I have to redshirt. I haven’t talked to any other schools yet but I will start looking right now.”
UPDATE: We asked Taylor for clarification on whether or not he was still committed to Alabama. He responded via text message on late Monday night: “Yes, I’m still committed [to Alabama].”
Back to the story: Taylor’s high school coach and legal guardian is Stanley Pritchett, who played fullback in the NFL for nine seasons, including a stint with the Atlanta Falcons. We asked Pritchett some questions on Monday night in order to get more insight:
- What’s your understanding of the situation? “If a kid has been committed for a year, you would think the college would honor it. But I understand college football is a business. When you hit the 25-scholarship limit, the colleges have to do something. It’s a hard situation for me because I’m also the legal guardian for Justin. I have to look at it from all sides. I’m upset about it. I kind of understand where Alabama is coming from because unfortunately he hurt this knee. But I was mad when [Alabama assistant Chris Rumph] called me about it two weeks ago. He knew I was mad. We played together at South Carolina. He knows me, and he knows how I feel about this. He assured me about [signing in 2013]. I left it up to Justin. If he still wanted to go to Alabama under those circumstances, that was up to him. For me, personally, I would go to a school where I am wanted. That’s just me.”
- One of the benefits for a recruit to commit early is that it almost always protects the recruit’s scholarship offer in case he is injured before signing a letter-of-intent. Was this scenario discussed with Alabama when Justin committed last February? “To be honest with you, I don’t know. I’m not sure how all of all of this works nowadays. I’m an old-school guy. When I came out of high school 20 years ago, we didn’t commit until late our senior year. I’m new to ‘committing early’ situation. I guess Alabama got too many commitments and that’s why Justin has to grayshirt. It’s a tough situation. When they told me about it two weeks ago, I was mad.”
- When Justin injured his knee last August, did Alabama mention the possibility of a “grayshirt” and waiting until next year to sign? “No, they never said anything like that at all. They were good about it. They made it clear they still wanted him this year. They said they were going to stick by him and honor the scholarship. They kept saying that over and over – ‘We’re going to stick by him.’”
- When was the first time Alabama mentioned the possibility of delaying his offer until next year? “It was two weeks ago from Coach Rumph. We never had talked about it before at all. [Rumph] explained how they would have a spot for him next year, and I don’t think they would do this to him again next year. Then again, you never know, because college football is still a business. They might decide to go in a different direction. You never know.”
- What is your opinion on what happened between Alabama and Justin? “I think it was both Justin’s injury and that Alabama has too many commitments. But Coach Saban said it was just the injury. They told me they talked to their trainers and the doctor who did the surgery and that Justin was on schedule with his rehab but he wasn’t really where he needed to be. I guess it was because he wasn’t getting every-day treatment. He goes 2-3 times per week but not every day like they do in college or the NFL. They felt like he was kind of behind on his rehab. I don’t think he’s behind on his rehab. He’s jogging and doing everything he’s supposed to be doing. The first few months after a torn ACL, you can’t take it too fast because you might re-injure it. After Alabama told me all of that stuff, I called his trainer and she thinks he is progressing well. I don’t know. Alabama told me it was because of his knee. They didn’t feel like he would be ready to come in August and compete. But I guess you could say it was both. Look at their number of commitments , and they’re still recruiting kids. You know it’s going to be about the numbers. They’re trying to say the knee but it’s really about the scholarship numbers, in my opinion … I’m disappointed. I’m disappointed with the whole process. If a kid commits and the college accepts it, then the college should honor it.”
Will Justin Taylor wait until 2013 to sign with Alabama? Will he sign elsewhere in two weeks? (Photo courtesy of 247sports.com)
- Taylor said he was “90 percent” recovered right now and will be fully healthy by the summer. Is that accurate? “He’s jogging. I don’t know if he’s at 90-percent but he just started working out again with the football team this week. I think he’d be able to play next year, but I’m not a doctor so I can’t make that call. I know his physical therapist thinks he’ll be fine by August. She thinks he is where he needs to be. She said he’s coming along so well that he might be able to run track this spring.”
- Did Alabama offer to help Justin find a job this fall? “I wasn’t with Justin every time he talked with the Alabama coaches. But that never came up in any of the conversations I was present for. No.”
- You were with Justin during some of his conversations with Saban this past weekend. What stands out the most? “Coach Saban explained everything and never said anything about the scholarship numbers. Well, the only thing he did say was that the NCAA had a rule about signing 25. He didn’t like the rule or whatever, blah blah blah, and all that. He said this was because of Justin’s knee and nothing else. I asked Coach Saban about the grayshirting. I said ‘What does this mean? What do you want him to do from summer time until December?’ He said Justin would stay in Atlanta, that he would be committed to Alabama but that he could be recruited by anybody. They said he couldn’t go to Alabama yet but that he could take some classes at a community college as a part-time student while getting more rehab. I wanted to know about all of that because that will be two years out of football for Justin. I told Justin ‘If you’re good with that, then I’ll support you.’ Personally, I wouldn’t be good with that, though. I would go to a Plan B if it was me.”
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– By Michael Carvell, AJC Recruiting Blog
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