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Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Watch List DE Sawyer a popular target

By Radi Nabulsi

SUWANEE, Ga. -- ESPN Watch List defensive end Dante Sawyer of North Gwinnett (Ga.) High School is becoming one of the most popular juniors in the country.

After picking up an offer from Alabama just over a week ago, Sawyer dropped in on the Crimson Tide as part of Nick Saban and company’s junior day. Sawyer said he was blown away.

Dante Sawyer
Dante Sawyer had a great trip to Alabama for its junior day.
"It was great,” Sawyer said. “I loved it. They showed me a lot of love, I mean a lot of love. They showed me that they really want me to come, so I’m really considering them. Coach Kirby [Smart] told me I was really high on their priority list."

Two weeks ago Sawyer was not sure that he was even on the Tide’s radar. The Alabama offer caught him off guard.

“I mean at first it was just surprising,” Sawyer said. “I thought they were just coming through checking on me and what not. We got to talking more about how I would play at Alabama, like where I would play at and if I’m comfortable standing up and all the other stuff. I think they were just getting some confirmation because Saban had told me they were watching my film on the way down here.”

North Gwinnett coach Bob Sphire was the one who shared the good news to Sawyer about his offer after Saban left.

“They had to communicate through me and they just saw a guy that they can do a lot of things with,” Sphire said. “Particularly Alabama sees him as that 3-4 outside guy that can walk up and play in space or put his hand down if he wants to. You know, he played running back for us as a freshman. So he’s a guy that they see as a 255-pound guy they can do a lot of things with.”

The highlight tape that Saban was watching en route to North Gwinnett was loaded with big plays.

“He came out of the chute and played great against Colquitt in that opener,” Sphire said. “He had 16 tackles and forced a couple of turnovers -- one that we scooped up for a score. That put him out there on that kind of elite scale already, and then to finish up the way he did -- particularly the performance he had against Grayson -- he had some game-changing plays throughout the season. So he has positioned himself where rightfully ... he’s got a lot of big offers.”

Alabama isn’t the only program that has come through to see Sawyer.

“Well, it’s been a lot coming through lately, you know, the last couple weeks,” Sawyer said. “I’d say the past week there’s probably been about 12 different schools that have come through. Georgia Tech just came by earlier today, probably about 30 minutes ago.”

Ohio State has been working hard in the Peach State and was one of the first schools to offer Sawyer.

“They’ve been showing a lot of love lately,” Sawyer said. “Talking to Coach [Mike] Vrabel, Coach [Mark] Pantoni, and Coach [Luke] Fickell a lot -- I’m probably going out there about Feb. 8 and stay out there for three days with my boys.”

Sawyer will have a lot of company on his trip. He plans to go with other Buckeyes targets Demarre Kitt, Nick Glass, Raekwon McMillan, DeShaun Watson and Bryson Allen-Williams. These six have spoken about playing together somewhere.

“2014 -- We’re going to come out with something,” Sawyer said. “We definitely been talking about it; you know we’re going to come out with a bang.”