Offensive tackle Brandon Hill of Collierville (Tenn.) St. George's knew little about the Alabama football program when he arrived at a camp there in July. By the time Hill left for home, he not only had strong feelings for the Crimson Tide but was enamored with its leader, according to his coach.
"I could tell after the trip, he was floored," said St. George's coach Brent Hill. "He was very impressed meeting Coach [Nick] Saban. He just has such a presence when he talks to you."
Thursday night, Brent Hill confirmed that Brandon Hill had committed to the Tide during an unofficial visit to Tuscaloosa for last week's game with LSU. The player could not be reached for comment.
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According to his coach, the 6-foot-7, 352-pound Hill picked the Tide over Mississippi State and Georgia.
"He's really excited," Brent Hill said. "He's relieved. Now, his focus is on the ACT and his grades. He's done his work in the class; he just hasn't taken his ACT yet. He's working on that now. He's going to a tutor for the ACT. I can't tell you how proud I am of him. It's amazing what this kid has done in one year."
Brandon Hill arrived at St. George's, a school just east of Memphis, on Sept. 15, 2010, meaning he wasn't allowed to compete until Sept. 16 of this year.
At his old school, Memphis Manassas, neither his grades nor his social life were very good. Hill was unhappy there, and his mom was fearful for his safety.
The search for a new environment led Hill to St. George's. One of his coaches at Manassas had ties there, but for Hill to gain admission, he had to pass a standardized test.
Over the summer, Hill was noticed by several programs.
"The crazy thing is, Mississippi State was probably on him earliest," Brent Hill said. "They did a great job recruiting him. What he fell in love with at Alabama was the overall program, from football to the tutoring."
Brandon Hill, a three-star prospect, plays both right tackle and noseguard for St. George's. In college, he'll be on offense.
"The two things that stand out about him are, he moves extremely well for such a big kid, and the second thing is, when he locks onto you, good luck," Brent Hill said. "When he locks onto you, you're not getting off."
Brandon Hill likely will official to Alabama after his season ends. It is not known at this time if he will take other officials. St. George's is currently 8-3 and in the playoffs.
"He's never been on a program that had won a playoff game," his coach said. "He was real excited we won our first-round game."