Cody Kessler recently returned from trips to Alabama and Pittsburgh and the Bakersfield (Calif.) Centennial pro-style quarterback raved about both visits as he continues to watch his offer list expand all the time.
Kessler, who said the Crimson Tide, Panthers and Boise State are his three favorite programs, seemed especially impressed by what Alabama offered from the coaching staff, to the players, to the fans around the state showing pride in their team. He got an offer while visiting campus.
"I was very excited," Kessler said. "I love the school. I got to talk to all the coaches and I love them. Coach (Jim) McElwain and coach (Nick) Saban, talking to them and being around that environment was awesome, and watching practice. I was very impressed and very excited to get that offer. I like it a lot.
"When I went on my visit they were showing me everything that was historical and we got a tour of all that. It was really cool and the academic stuff. It seemed like you'd have to try to fail. Everything there was set up perfectly, how you could go to class, go to tutoring, go to football. I liked it a lot."
Playing with future four- and five-star prospects is also a big selling point for Kessler, who also has offers from Arizona State, Fresno State, New Mexico State and Washington State. That Alabama football is taken so seriously in the state is another important factor to the Bakersfield quarterback.
"Having those guys would definitely help a lot because it takes a lot more stress off you," Kessler said. "I don't mind the pressure but it's always nice to hand the ball off to the Heisman Trophy winner. There are a bunch of athletes out there and everybody is a superstar so it's kind of like watching an all-star game during practice.
"They had this saying there, 'We don't just play football, we live it,' so I thought that was kind of cool. Everyone there, even when we weren't in Tuscaloosa, when we were in other parts of Alabama, everyone had an Alabama football shirt on and all red on. They really support their team."
What mainly stood out about Pittsburgh to Kessler, who will visit Boise State later this week, is that coach Dave Wannstedt has so many NFL ties and the program has put lots of players in the pros. It's something to seriously consider since Kessler said playing in the NFL is his ultimate goal.
"There are definitely a lot of connections," Kessler said. "He's been in the league before. He has all the connections and talks to all the scouts. The other thing is when you walk in and all the guys who went to the NFL are on the list, it's just huge.
"That's my main goal to get to the NFL and I think going there would help a lot. I saw that when I was there. Even coach Saban said that - how they get their guys to the NFL and how well they prepare them."
Even though Fresno State isn't the biggest "name" school on his list, the Bulldogs cannot be counted out, either. Bakersfield is only about an hour from Fresno so location and familiarity could be factors for Kessler, who said he talks to coach Pat Hill regularly.
"I like Fresno State also," Kessler said. "I grew up watching them. I'm looking for the big name that stands out, that's definitely a part of it, but I'm looking for a place that fits me no matter what it is or where the school is.
"I want a place where I can go and I can play and get a good education and hopefully have a chance to go to the NFL. The main thing is the best fit for me, not just the name."