Recruiting Rewind: RB Kenyan Drake reflects on Nick Saban, signing with Alabama over UGA & Tech

Alabama’s Nick Saban finished with this year’s No. 1-ranked recruiting class in the nation, and it was boosted immensely by the signing of eight prospects from Georgia. One of Alabama’s top imports from Georgia was Kenyan Drake, the AJC Super 11 running back from Hillgrove High School.

The 6-foot-1, 200-pound Drake committed to Alabama over UGA and Georgia Tech nearly a year before signing day, and never wavered. He reflected on his recruiting journey with the AJC:

What is the most creative thing a college did to get your attention? “There really wasn’t anything too creative, other than the coaches just showing up at my school and coming to see me. I think when [Alabama’s Nick Saban] and [Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson], along with [UGA assistant Bryan McClendon], came to my school and showed me love, I felt like that was one of the most important things in the whole recruiting process.”

RB Kenyan Drake was one of eight Georgia prospects that signed in February with Alabama, which finished with the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation (AJC)

RB Kenyan Drake was one of eight Georgia prospects that signed in February with Alabama, which finished with the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation (AJC)

Which school finished runner-up to Alabama? “I think it had to be Georgia because I had been a lifelong fan of Georgia, along with Georgia Tech. The one thing that took away from Georgia Tech was that I was not a big fan of the option. So once that kind of came into play, Georgia Tech kind of came in third. With Georgia, I wasn’t sure what would’ve happened if they had a bad season, which they didn’t thankfully they didn’t. I wasn’t sure if the tenure of Coach Mark Richt would’ve held up. I think it was an easier decision to go to Alabama because of [that uncertainty]. I wasn’t sure about Coach Richt’s future at the time, and I wanted to get my recruiting process over because I knew it was going to get real hectic. Once I got an Alabama offer and I wasn’t comfortable with Coach Richt being there for the long run if they had a bad season, then I went ahead and committed to Alabama.”

What if there wasn’t so much speculation about Mark Richt’s future at the time you committed? “I would’ve been a tougher decision because I really liked Georgia and everything they had to offer. So it was going to be … well, I wouldn’t say a tossup. But I would’ve had to have thought about it a little longer. With everything going at Georgia and all the speculation about Coach Richt, and then realizing the stability at Alabama — it wasn’t a hard decision, at that point.”

What was the biggest rumor that wasn’t true about you? “That Georgia didn’t offer me. They offered me before Alabama. Once I committed to Alabama, people had the notion that Georgia didn’t even offer me. I was like ‘That’s not true, at all.’ No, they offered me before Alabama did. It was my junior year after the Brookwood game. We went to the Georgia game against Georgia Tech. I met with Coach Richt after his press conference and he told me he was extending an offer to me.”

Which coach was it the hardest to inform that you were signing with Alabama? “It had to be Georgia Tech [assistant Brian Bohannon]. Because with him, he was the first coach to really recruit me, and because Georgia Tech was the first school to offer me. So I really built up a great relationship with the coaches at Georgia Tech. Not just Coach Bohannon but every coach at Georgia Tech. Once I got the offer from Georgia, I felt like it was a done deal with Georgia Tech, especially after I got the Alabama offer. When I decided to commit, Coach Bohannon was the first coach I called that day because of the close relationship we had. Out of respect for him, I wanted to tell him personally without him having to read on the Internet that I was committing to Alabama. That was the type of relationship we had, and that’s what made it the hardest thing to do in the recruiting process.”

Mark Richt has one last chance to plead his case for UGA's top remaining defenisve target and it will take place at a Wednesday night church service (AJC)

Mark Richt made a big impression on Drake as a "father figure" but it was rampant speculation over Richt's coaching future at UGA that hindered the Bulldogs (AJC)

What was your biggest regret in recruiting? “It might’ve been committing early. Even with committing early, I felt like after everything was over, I would’ve been able to handle the recruiting process. It would’ve been something I would’ve looked back and said, ‘I visited this school and that school on official visits.’ But you know, it’s still not a regret because I feel like I got a lot of things out of the way by committing early. But that’s the only thing that comes to mind at the moment.”

If you would’ve not committed early, do you think you still would’ve ended up at Alabama? “I really believe so. There would’ve been more options. But in my mind and in my heart, Alabama was still the best choice out of any schools. That’s why I committed so early.”

What’s the funniest thing a coach said to you? “I can’t think of anything specific. But [Alabama assistant Kirby Smart] is the funniest coach I’ve ever been around. He’s real laid back and down to Earth. You can talk to him about anything, whether it be school, football, or your girlfriend. He will have a conversation with you because he’s that cool and that’s type of person.”

Which non-Alabama coach was the nicest? “Probably coach Mark Richt. He was a very genuine guy. I’m not saying anybody else wasn’t genuine. With Coach Richt, he was really down to Earth and he really showed that he really cares not only about you being a potential student-athlete but also as a person. He comes across in a caring manner which makes you feel really right at home. He’s a pretty good father figure.”

Nick Saban built Alabama's No. 1-ranked recruiting class for 2012 with eight of Georgia's top recruits. Saban appears to be raiding the state again with three early 2013 commits (AP)

Drake on Nick Saban: "I’m not saying he’s mean but I’m not saying he’s ‘buddy buddy’ with you either. He’s very businesslike." (AP)

What coach was not the nicest? “Well, I wouldn’t say not the nicest, but I would have to say Coach Saban. But I’m not saying he was not the nicest. He’s really straight forward. You know what I mean? I’m not saying he’s mean but I’m not saying he’s ‘buddy buddy’ with you either. He’s very businesslike. I’m not saying Coach Richt isn’t businesslike but they have two different personalities. Coach Richt is really caring. I’m not going to say Coach Saban isn’t. He’s just real straight forward, to the point and businesslike. And he gives it to you like this, and if it’s not like this, then there’s no other way. With Coach Mark Richt, I feel like he’s more lenient.”

How would you describe your relationship with Coach Saban? “I feel like it’s a very good relationship. At first, he can be intimidating because of the things you read or hear about him. And with his personality, he’s very straight forward. He tells you like it is. But once you get to really know him, it’s different. The chance I got to spend with Coach Saban and his wife during my visit … we got to joke around and have a couple of laughs. You know, people that aren’t really that close to him, or haven’t been in those type of situations, they wouldn’t really understand because they see him as being straight forward. Once you get to see the man, the husband Coach Saban is and the father Coach Saban is, you really get to see what type of person he is.”

Which college coach liked your mother’s cooking the best? “The funny thing is, Alabama was the only school to come in on a home visit. And Coach Saban really insisted that there was no need to make some type of fancy dinner for us to sit down and eat. He really wanted to come over and talk football, and explain his expectations both on and off the field. It wasn’t like any big family gathering but more like a business meeting.”

During the recruiting process, you became good friends with Justin Taylor, who decided to sign with Kentucky rather than take a grayshirt offer from Alabama for next year. What did you think about that whole deal? “I just felt … I don’t know. It was unfortunate how everything ended up. I feel like either way, he would’ve been in a good situation. I don’t know. I can’t really put a comment on everything that happened there because I’m not too familiar with the situation as a whole. I wish him the best of luck at Kentucky because I am pretty good friends with him. I hope everything he’s looking for and everything he’s hoping for, he finds at Kentucky.”

How is this for school pride?  Drake with the "A" for Alabama hairdo last summer

How is this for school pride? Drake with the "A" for Alabama hairdo last summer

What do you think it will be like to play for a guy that many consider to be college football’s best coach? “It’s like you really don’t want to disappoint him. You see how hard he works and how prepared he is, day in and day out, to be the best at what he’s doing. He’s a very good role model. Once you see everything he’s accomplished and trying to accomplish, it’s almost like all that success is going to rub off on you. Because Coach Saban is your coach, you’re definitely going to strive to be the best you can be, regardless.”

Drake will report to Alabama on May 27, the day after his high school graduation.

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579 comments Add your comment

WnE

April 17th, 2012
3:52 am

re:
“The one thing that took away from Georgia Tech was that I was not a big fan of the option. So once that kind of came into play, Georgia Tech kind of came in third”
______________

The quote above is from Kenyan Drake, he is a HS Sr. and is headed to play for Bama next year.

He is not WnE and he doesn’t use multiple screen names either.

Just like the old saying goes GT fans/CPJ apologists:

Just because you’re paranoid that doesn’t mean someone isn’t out to get ya’

I guess the normal crew of CPJ apologists/BLTs will come to this blog and and try and claim that this Nationally Ranked HS RB doesn’t know what he’s talking about, and that CPJ’s gimmicky offense is the best thing since sliced bread.

For those CPJ apologists out there maybe you should take a guess at how many other top-flight HS RBs feel the same way about CPJ’s gimmicky offense.

Last year was a banner yr. for HS RBs in Ga., the Top-7 were all academic Qualifiers for GT and all had offers from GT, and CPJ went 0-for-7 in the State of Ga. among the top 7 RBs.

So instead CPJ decided to sign a RB from the state of Fla. that everyone else recruited as a LB, and then he wowed the GT fanbase with some snarky remarks about the Recruiting Services not knowing anything about evaluating talent at the NSD gathering at the Edge Center, and the GT fanbase loved every minute of it and refuse to question their HC.

Instead they question the Recruiting Services.

This phenomenon is why GT fans spend so much time arguing on various blogs about CFB, all their info comes from one “source” and to them that source cannot be questioned……………….EVER!

Sam

April 17th, 2012
3:53 am

would have been great to have him but you can’t get em all. good luck and see you in Atlanta in December. GO DAWGS

7576DAWG

April 17th, 2012
4:38 am

As I have stated before if they were recruiting me and CMR got fired I wouldn’t care if they made the ground keeper head coach , I’M GOING TO GEORGIA. I’m would have been looking forward to playing football there my whole life and even though it would have been great for Richt to be there , the reason I would be going to Georgia is because IT’S GEORGIA.
Also if I had any intelligence I would know that no way Richt gets fired unless McGarity has someone just as good ready to take over as head coach.
Bottom line why Drake didn’t go to Georgia is because they had Crowell already there and Gurley and Marshall committed. Actually a pretty good reason.

NCDawg

April 17th, 2012
4:54 am

“With Coach Mark Richt, I feel like he’s more lenient.” – hadn’t thought so before, but maybe Richt has some responsibility for the discipline problems at Georgia.

Dawg on the Bayou

April 17th, 2012
4:56 am

You nailed it, DAWG.

Dawg on the Bayou

April 17th, 2012
4:57 am

7576DAWG, that is.

Mountain Dawg

April 17th, 2012
5:06 am

I belive deep down, in his heart of hearts, and allowing for hindsight to be 20/20, he wishes he hadn’t signed so early – and he regrets it. He will always wonder ‘what might have been’.

Joe

April 17th, 2012
5:50 am

After the performance of Yeldon, I hope that Drake is ready to go when he gets there. If he is not 100% on board, he will be at Georgia State in a couple of years.

Crimson Crush

April 17th, 2012
5:54 am

He didn’t “sign” early … because you CAN’T “sign” early . He simply committed to Bama … and REFUSED to change that to UGA . IF he had wanted to be a Dawg … all he had to do was pick up that phone and say it … and then PROVE it by faxing his LOI to Athens instead of Tuscaloosa .

Only a delusional Dawg can cook that raw fact up into into a mealy headed mush story of “he really wanted to come to UGA but he “signed” early” . LOL ;-)

Dawg Bounty Hunter

April 17th, 2012
5:57 am

Saban is brutal and Kirby Smart was saying Richt would get fired like he had some inside info… I don’t think he’s 100 % Alabama either… Go Dawgs !!

Destin Dawg

April 17th, 2012
6:00 am

we’re loaded at RB.. need is O line… Will Friend are you there ???

Rubber Neck

April 17th, 2012
6:04 am

Marshall and Gurley were the top 2 prospects on the UGA board from Day 1 last year, just like Derrick Henry was for this year’s class. RB recruiting at UGA can’t possibly be going any better. Getting another one this year would just be gravy.

Home of the Champions

April 17th, 2012
6:16 am

It was Georgia’s fan base that was trying to get Richt fired.

Tampa Gator

April 17th, 2012
6:25 am

Please…..some school hire Kirby Smart away from Bama as a head coach…..and make Saban’s worst nightmare come true.

Tampa Gator

April 17th, 2012
6:25 am

Why not Arkansas? Kirby, listening?

Paddy

April 17th, 2012
6:37 am

Tampa Gator………believe it or not there is already a betting line on the next Ark coach. Of the 5 listed, Smart is #5 @ 6-1.

Destin Dawg

April 17th, 2012
6:37 am

Smart is a Saban clone.. not going anywhere!!

BobDawg

April 17th, 2012
7:09 am

Seems like a great kid…. wish him well at Bama… and it shows how hard our staff had to recruit “upstream” the entire year with the rumors. We will get plenty of OL this summer as that is when most recruits still commit around the summer camps. Most years we have had our class signed and in the hay is in the barn by Christmas. This year will be the same thing….

Typical Bama Fan

April 17th, 2012
7:18 am

Typical Bama Fan

April 17th, 2012
7:18 am

Saban’s the best

Typical Bama Fan

April 17th, 2012
7:19 am

Saban gets EVERYBODY he wants from the state of Georgia.

Not So Fast My Friend!!!!

April 17th, 2012
7:20 am

7576DAWG

Drake committed to Bama, Feb. 2011. Marshall didn’t commit to UGA until Dec 2011 and Gurley committed after that. If Drake wanted to play at UGA he would be at UGA. Period!!! Your assumption is incorrect.

Just in case you haters forgot…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5781M3uLpWk

Typical Bama Fan

April 17th, 2012
7:20 am

Saban wasn’t going to eat at the boy’s house. His mama should have taken the meal to Saban.

Typical Bama Fan

April 17th, 2012
7:20 am

Kirby Smart knows better than to leave Saban

Typical Bama Fan

April 17th, 2012
7:21 am

Saban can part the Red Sea.

Typical Bama Fan

April 17th, 2012
7:21 am

Saban doesn’t need a personality. He just wins.

pooh p

April 17th, 2012
7:22 am

he probly choose bama because richt and his fatcat oil buddys Bu$h and regan Obama will give us the money we deserve.

JoeFrazier

April 17th, 2012
7:22 am

please don’t start that crap

Funny

April 17th, 2012
7:23 am

UGA signee talks about UA coaching instability = signee must of come up with it by themselve
UA signee talks about UGA coaching instability = must be negative recruiting

I can tell you Alabama doesn’t need to negatively recruit and when KS leaves Alabama they will be just fine. But dont stop wishing it’s fun to read some of these comments.
RTR

Jacket Man

April 17th, 2012
7:27 am

Any mention of GA Tech and it’s like the smell of Krispy Kreme doughnuts to a pothead for WnE; he won’t resist to take a first bite, then make a pig of himself, before he starts to giggle. Can’t the moderators just shut this blow hard up once and for all?

BobDawg

April 17th, 2012
7:31 am

…..Just read about the NC trophy getting smashed to bits by the parent of one of the players at Bama. That made a mess?! I bet that dude wanted to dig a hole and crawl in it. Took a tour of the Waterford Crystal plant in Ireland back in 2008 on a golf trip. Pretty cool place and amazing how they make those things…

Bob

April 17th, 2012
7:32 am

Saban and Smart are great recruiters. And this is a very interesting story. But you could certainly have picked a different position. Didn’t Georgia get Marshal and Gurley? The negative recruiting and hot seat talk certainly took its toll last year, but hardly at the running back position.

Kid seems like a great young man and I wish him the absolute best in T-town. But Georgia was second to nobody this past year in the running back position.

Paddy

April 17th, 2012
7:33 am

poop p……you deserve what you earn not what someone gives you! Mind sets like yours is a cancer in our country!

Kerryb

April 17th, 2012
7:35 am

Sounds like the kid really wanted to go to UGA. Saying that the coach you are about to play for was not the nicest is about the funniest thing I’ve heard in recruiting but, I knew that was going to be his answer when the question was asked That’s not the first time I’ve heard that about Saban. It works out in the end. UGA got Marshall and Gurley and has Crowell and Malcome. Good luck to him sounds like a good kid.

[...] What do you think it will be like to play for a guy that many consider to be college football’s best coach? “It’s like you really don’t want to disappoint him. You see how hard he works and how prepared he is, day in and day out, to be the best at what he’s doing. He’s a very good role model. Once you see everything he’s accomplished and trying to accomplish, it’s almost like all that success is going to rub off on you. Because Coach Saban is your coach, you’re definitely going to strive to be the best you can be, regardless.” Drake will report to Alabama on May 27, the day after his high school graduation. [More] [...]

BAMA dude

April 17th, 2012
7:39 am

Y’all UGA folk don’t really believe you have more RB depth than Bama, do you? Really? Dee Hart was just as highly rated as Crowell (higher in some services and won a National Player of the Year honor as a senior), and he is competing with TJ Yeldon and Jalston Fowler to be the backup behind Eddie Lacy. Next year the spectacularly named Altee Tenpenny comes into the fray as well.

BAMA dude

April 17th, 2012
7:42 am

Oh, and this is classic: “And he gives it to you like this, and if it’s not like this, then there’s no other way. With Coach Mark Richt, I feel like he’s more lenient.”

Says it all about the off-the-field stuff that goes on over there, doesn’t it? Oh, I forgot… it’s just that the police love to arrest UGA players. Especially defensive backs.

Douglas

April 17th, 2012
7:44 am

I am a UGA grad….why are some of you guys giving this guy a hard time? He loved UGA but did not feel it was a stable place. I think he used a lot of wisdom. If you look at his answers, they are well thought out. He is also very honest. And he did not mean that Richt beng “lenient” was that Richt did not disciple players — he meant Richt was laid-back and easy to talk to.

intheknow

April 17th, 2012
7:46 am

Can’t wait for all the excuses from the Bama fans when they don’t meet expectations this year,I’m sure they’ve already started working on them. From what I saw from watching some of their Spring game they’ve got a lot of work to do to win the West…LSU will win the West this year….write it down now….gonna be crying time at Crimson Crush’s house….a lot of Bama trailers are gonna have sad owners!

I hope he switches positions!!!!!

April 17th, 2012
7:48 am

Have you guys seen the pay scale of NFL DB’s. Forget RB…DB is where the money and career longevity is. If I’m a high school kid, and I’m thinking about the NFL, I want no part of the RB position. If you guys don’t believe me…Google the top 100 highest paid players in the NFL. See how many DB’s there are compared to RB’s. Case Closed.

Wallace Butts

April 17th, 2012
7:51 am

It’s no secret that KS was telling recruits that Richt was gone after this last season. I would call that negative recruiting.
Also, Drake better be ready because Yeldon and Dee Hart looked real good in the spring game at ‘Bama. If not, get used to the pine.

Todd Grantham

April 17th, 2012
8:14 am

Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley say “Hi” !!! Go Dawgs!!!

Dap01

April 17th, 2012
8:16 am

The headlines makes this sound like it just happened. Kinda misleading. The real story, is the depth chart at UGA looks strong at the moment. I hope the guy don’t get hurt and has a bad year, he will be wearing a gray shirt quickly.

PW

April 17th, 2012
8:19 am

Yet another installment of the anti-Tide investigative series of “So Why Did You Choose Alabama? “.

yellowfever

April 17th, 2012
8:26 am

OK all you Ga. Tech haters, here’s the deal. Not in the last 40 years has Tech been able to recruit enough Blue Chip players to make them a contender year end and year out. Thats why the 70’s,80’s90’s and most of 2000’s sucked. Freaking Charlie Dudish was the last BIG name recruit to sign with Tech and that was in the late 60’s. So, if you can’t get enough talent to compete for titles then you have to try something different or accept being average. Tech decided they didn’t want to be average so we go out and get a coach that with average players can make us more competitive than if we had 1-2 Blue chips. I have many UGA friends who said the day Tech hired CPJ that they thought it was a great move for Tech and would in time get the rivalry back to where it needs to be. So all you UGA bandwagon haters talking about our gimmicky offense and cant recruit top running backs well their you go. My 2 cents.

FL Jacket

April 17th, 2012
8:27 am

Kenyon…Synjyn Days and Jabari Hunt-Days say hello and they love the playing time at Tech!

Bama Fan#2

April 17th, 2012
8:27 am

Kenyan better get ready for a RS season because the
crimson tide is loaded at RB. The Yeldon kid is going to
be awesome this season and Bama is going to be better
on offense this year. Defense will be very good but no
way is it in the same class as last years or 92 NC’S
defense. RTR

yellowfever

April 17th, 2012
8:29 am

I think UGA should be allowed to sign EVERY 5 star recruit in the state of Georgia. Nobody else can come in here and sign any players. It’s UGA’s birth right dad gummit.

The Grinch

April 17th, 2012
8:30 am

BAMA dude
April 17th, 2012
7:42 am

Or these classics:

Which non-Alabama coach was the nicest? “Probably coach Mark Richt. He was a very genuine guy.”

What coach was not the nicest? “Well, I wouldn’t say not the nicest, but I would have to say Coach Saban.”

The Grinch

April 17th, 2012
8:32 am

BAMA dude
April 17th, 2012
7:42 am

Or this classic as to why he really chose Alabama:

“Once I got an Alabama offer and I wasn’t comfortable with Coach Richt being there for the long run if they had a bad season, then I went ahead and committed to Alabama.”