- Greg Ostendorf, ESPN Staff Writer
Coming off its second national championship in the last three years, the University of Alabama opens the season against Denard Robinson and Michigan at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas. It’s great for college footall, and it’s a fan’s dream.
But it’s not just for the fans. Recruits love to watch the big games, too. Since the arrival of Nick Saban, the Crimson Tide have played in their fair share of high-profile games early in the season, and the top high school prospects have taken notice.
“Recruits like to see that because most recruits like the spotlight, so that really helps a lot,” Alabama tight end commitment O.J. Howard said.
“They also see the next year [where] you have another game played on TV, played in the spotlight, a big national stage, a lot of recruits like to see that. They like to go places where they can be in the spotlight.”
Howard is referring to Alabama’s opening game in 2013, in which the Tide will return to the Georgia Dome and face Virginia Tech as part of the Chick-fil-A Kickoff weekend. What better way for Howard to start his career?
“It will be sweet to start off in the Georgia Dome for my first game,” Howard said. “It will be nice, and hopefully we can make it back later on that year for the SEC championship. That would be awesome.”
Because Alabama is the designated home team in this year’s Cowboys Classic against Michigan, the UA coaching staff was able to invite certain recruits, such as Howard, to attend the game. They can send a ticket as long as the recruit can accomodate his travel to and from Dallas.
For ESPN 150 cornerback and Tide commitment Maurice Smith, the travel was the easy part. The Houston native plans to play his first high school game on Friday night before driving up to Dallas on Saturday for the big game.
“This is one of the biggest games that I’ve ever been to,” Smith said. “To see an SEC team that I’ll be attending next year, it’s an honor, and I can’t wait to get up there.”
Howard, a native of Prattville, Ala., has quite a bit longer of a trip to make, but it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the ESPN tight end.
“It’s going to be sweet,” he said. “I’ve never been to an NFL stadium at all, so I’ll get to be in an NFL stadium, and I’ll get to watch the team I’m playing for next year. It’s just going to be an overall great game, and college football is starting just right with that game.”
Other recruits who may attend the game include UA commitments Anthony Averett, Cooper Bateman and Altee Tenpenny, as well as 2014 prospects Jamal Adams, Tony Brown, Demetrius Knox and Nick Watkins, all Texas natives.
1dSam Khan Jr.