Take Two: Why does Alabama recruit DMV area so well?
Take Two returns with a daily offering tackling a handful of issues in the college football landscape. Rivals.com National Recruiting Analyst Adam Gorney lays out the situation and then receives takes from Rivals.com National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell and a local or regional expert from the Rivals.com network.
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Alabama has proven it can go anywhere to get any prospect, especially with the Crimson Tide’s wild success under coach Nick Saban. But they’ve been particularly successful dipping into the DMV area (D.C., Maryland and Virginia) for top recruits who have panned out and been some of the program’s best players in recent years.
Offensive linemen Arie Kouandjio and his brother, Cyrus Kouandjio, both played at Hyattsville (Md.) DeMatha before going on to Alabama and then the NFL. Both are still on pro rosters.
Five-star defensive end Jonathan Allen picked the Crimson Tide out of Ashburn (Va.) Stone Bridge and he was a first-round pick by the Washington Redskins in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Former No. 1 overall prospect Da’Shawn Hand, from Woodbridge, Va., selected Alabama and although his career didn’t exactly pan out in Tuscaloosa he was still a fourth-round pick of the Detroit Lions in the NFL Draft last month.
So many players from that area of the country - which used to be even more fertile recruiting ground for Penn State - have decided to head to Alabama instead and it’s paid off.
It doesn’t look as if it’s slowing down, either. The top-rated player in Maryland last recruiting cycle, five-star defensive end Eyabi Anoma, signed with the Crimson Tide. Top inside linebacker and No. 1 prospect in Maryland this cycle, Shane Lee, has already committed to Alabama. Both are from Baltimore St. Frances.
Why have so many top-rated players from the DMV area gone to Tuscaloosa rather than staying closer to home at big-time programs in their region?
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FIRST TAKE: ADAM FRIEDMAN, RIVALS.COM MID-ATLANTIC RECRUITING ANALYST
“Over the years, Alabama has plenty of top players from the DMV and Rivals100 linebacker Shane Lee will likely make another one when he signs in December. The biggest similarity from when this run started with Arie Kouandjio in 2010 to now is that Alabama can consistently develop talented prospects and turn them into NFL prospects.
"Players from this region that end up at Alabama are hyper-focused on how to make that leap and see Alabama’s formula has a good track record. Under Nick Saban, Alabama has always had at least one coach that has strong ties to the DMV. That has certainly helped make players feel comfortable in Tuscaloosa. Right now, that coach is offensive coordinator Mike Locksley and it was a major factor in the recruitment of Lee.” – Friedman
SECOND TAKE: MIKE FARRELL, RIVALS.COM NATIONAL RECRUITING DIRECTOR
“They spot recruit very well there. I would say Florida State does as well. There are certain schools that have a very good connection there, a very good feel there, their coaches have good relationships there and Alabama is one of them. When you start bringing successful players in like Florida State did with Eddie Goldman and Ronald Darby and obviously Alabama with Cyrus Jones and Da’Shawn Hand and guys like that, it’s going to be easier to go back there and impress those kids because they’ve seen other kids go ahead of them.” – Farrell
MORE TAKE TWO: Is FSU becoming recruiting power?