Dalvin Tomlinson’s connection to Alabama ‘grayshirt scandal’ (UPDATED)
11:20 pmFebruary 5, 2012, by Michael Carvell
Dalvin Tomlinson, who picked Alabama over Georgia Tech and UGA on signing day, was not connected to the Crimson Tide’s “grayshirting” scandal, according to his coach.
Two longtime Alabama commitments (both recovering from knee injuries) were told only weeks before signing day by Nick Saban that they couldn’t sign with the Crimson Tide this year. Both were given the option to “grayshirt” or delay enrolling at Alabama in 2013.
What we learned: If you commit to Nick Saban, it’s safe unless you get injured or Alabama has the opportunity to upgrade at your position before you officially sign the paperwork (AP)
Justin Taylor, a running back from North Atlanta High School, was apparently no longer needed after Alabama upgraded at the position when 5-star RB TJ Yeldon flipped from Auburn to the Crimson Tide. Taylor, who missed most of his senior season with a knee injury, ended up signing with Kentucky and had some strong comments for Saban: “[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.” (Click on story link)
Meanwhile, Darius Philon is the “story that won’t go away,” according to a Sunday column by al.com’s Mike Herndon. Philon, a defensive lineman from Prichard, Ala., injured his knee toward the end of his senior season. On signing day, Philon put on an Alabama baseball cap at an emotional ceremony [see video below] but ended up signing hours later with Arkansas – a school he never visited. Philon’s coach told al.com “He had the world snatched up from under him.” Philon was apparently no longer needed after Alabama upgraded at the position with defensive linemen Dalvin Tomlinson and Korren Kirven.
We addressed the Tomlinson-for-Philon rumors with Henry County coach Mike Rozier over the weekend.
How did Dalvin end up going to Alabama?Did it have anything to do with Alabama offering a “grayshirt” to another player? “From day one, Dalvin was going to Alabama. He kept delaying and everything, and it got kind of close with the scholarship numbers. But Nick wanted Dalvin from day one. He was Nick’s boy. Coach Saban fell in love with him a long time ago. Alabama never waived on that kid. There was no ‘grayshirt’ mention with Dalvin whatsoever by Alabama. All that other stuff is rumor and speculation … Dalvin always had a scholarship at Alabama. That thing that happened over at North Atlanta [Justin Taylor], that wasn’t the same thing here. Dalvin always had a a scholarship to Alabama.”
What about Alabama’s scholarship numbers? “I kept hearing everybody say that Alabama was getting close to being full and telling me ‘You need to do something, if that is where Dalvin wants to go.’ Alabama was Dalvin’s No. 1 choice but he didn’t want to rush things. I know Alabama was close to being full. Dalvin actually committed to Coach Saban when he made an in-home visit on MLK Day [on Jan. 16] but he wanted to keep it a secret until signing day.”
For an elite prospect, Dalvin never seemed to the flashy type or want the media attention. Why do you think Dalvin kept it a secret for three more weeks? “I asked him that. He just wanted to make sure on his part. On Alabama’s part of the deal, there was never any hesitation. They always wanted him. When it got close with the numbers at Alabama and he needed to do something, Dalvin committed. But he wanted to keep it a secret and that I can’t answer. I don’t know why.”
AJC Super 11 DE Dalvin Tomlinson was "Nick's boy" all along, claims his coach (AJC)
Who else knew Dalvin had committed to Alabama weeks ago? “I’m the only one he told at first. He finally fessed up to [Georgia Tech assistant Joe Speed] a few days before signing day about where he was going. Coach Speed honored his wishes by keeping it a secret. Now I can’t answer why Dalvin wanted to wait until signing day. He couldn’t give me an answer on that. But our timing had nothing to do with [Philon] because Dalvin always had an Alabama offer. Alabama was the most truthful school in the recruiting process. They were the most honest. They didn’t pester him and they didn’t bug him. That was one big thing that Dalvin liked about Alabama – that they didn’t downgrade other programs. Coach Saban spoke very highly of other programs, especially Georgia and Georgia Tech. And Dalvin, with the type of character he has, he appreciated that. Alabama didn’t play any games with him.”
Are you talking about Georgia Tech and UGA? “It was more Georgia Tech than Georgia. Dalvin wasn’t upfront with Coach Speed until right before the dead period. Coach Speed just thought the numbers didn’t look good at Alabama and that they were holding a spot for him at Georgia Tech.
What about UGA? “I think when Dalvin didn’t go on his official visit there, they got the hint. Dalvin did have a family problem [which made him cancel], but the signs were there when he didn’t go to UGA on the official visit or make plans to reschedule it. I guess they got the idea then. He wasn’t upfront with them … Dalvin really liked [UGA RB coach Bryan McClendon]. He said if McClendon was the defensive line coach, he might’ve considered going to Georgia. He thought very highly of Coach McClendon and developed a relationship with him. But he’s the running backs coach. When I say that, Alabama was his No. 1 school all along. I don’t know why he waited it out but he was never going to Georgia or Georgia Tech.”
Other items on “the story that won’t go away”
Justin Taylor on Bama: "... 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.” (AJC)
The moral of this story: If you commit to Alabama, it’s safe unless you get injured or Alabama has the opportunity to upgrade at your position before you officially sign the paperwork.
Kevin Scarbinsky of the Birmingham News: “Call me cynical, but there’s no question that Philon and Taylor were more committed to Alabama than Alabama was to them when better players lined up to take their place. And yet, despite stories like Philon’s and Taylor’s, an awful lot of prospects can’t wait to play for Alabama … What does it all mean? When Saban’s process is good, it’s very good. When it goes bad, Alabama goes on, and some young men go away.”
Al.com’s Mike Herndon: “All verbal commitments are non-binding, even from coaches who claim to be “old-fashioned” and believe “a commitment is a commitment.” On Wednesday, Saban praised the players who had stuck by their commitments to Alabama in this year’s class, calling it “a positive thing for us in terms of managing our recruiting this year.” What his actions have told future recruits, however, is that if you get hurt, that commitment isn’t necessarily a two-way street.”
One thing that might’ve been overlooked by many from the Justin Taylor story was the conversation between North Atlanta coach Stanley Prichett and Chris Rumph, the Alabama assistant in charge of botching Taylor’s situation. When they talked on signing day, Rumph apparently was putting pressure on Justin to make a decision for Feb. 2013 — which is a year away. Said Prichett: “[Rumph] asked what Justin was going to do because they wanted to go after some other people.”
Apparently, no one asked Saban about Justin Taylor or Darius Philon at Alabama’s signing day press conference. However, Saban may have alluded to both when he said this: “I think basically what we did was, because of the cynical attitude people have towards whether coaches are really doing what’s in the best interest of the young people that we coach, which I sort of resent, to be honest with you, because that’s one of the things that we pride ourselves in, we actually took some opportunities away from guys that really wanted to come to Alabama that we couldn’t sign, and they couldn’t come here because we couldn’t offer that [sign and grayshirt] option to them.” Note: The AJC requested an interview with Saban last week to give his version of events with Taylor or his recruiting tactics in general. We’re awaiting his response.