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Thursday, March 7, 2013
Offered QBs ready for Bama's auditions

By Greg Ostendorf

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- When it comes to recruiting quarterbacks at the University of Alabama, it’s more like trying out for the school play.

The signup sheet is the Crimson Tide’s coaches scouring for prospects, tirelessly reviewing film and the, ultimately, choosing a handful of players to bring in for auditions.

Tyler Harris
Besides Alabama, Tyler Harris holds offers from Mississippi State and Troy.
So far, four signal callers -- David Cornwell (Norman, Okla./North), Tyler Harris (Blackshear, Ga./Pierce County), DeShone Kizer (Toledo, Ohio, Central Catholic) and Jacob Park (Goose Creek, S.C./Stratford) -- have made the cut. All four have earned scholarship offers from Alabama.

The first was Cornwell, an ESPN Watch List member. He initially discovered he was offered from head coach Nick Saban at the Tide’s first junior day in January. This week, he called back to confirm it.

“I kind of knew I had it, but I just wanted to confirm it,” Cornwell said. “That’s what Coach Saban did -- he confirmed it for me. It was just really cool to talk with him, a guy in such a high position and at the top of his profession.”

Harris picked up his offer three weeks later. It was his first.

“It feels amazing for a program like Alabama to be my first one,” he said. “I’m just very grateful to have them offer me. It just feels amazing.”

The latest to receive an offer was Kizer, a dual-threat quarterback from Ohio. He heard from Alabama on Monday.

More candidates could emerge this spring, but nobody has won the part yet.

That’s where the second audition comes in. The quarterbacks who make it through will visit Tuscaloosa in June to compete at the Tide’s summer camp. Once there, the group will work out in front of Saban, a former quarterback himself. He has the final say in the matter.

After bringing in three quarterbacks in the 2013 class, Alabama has just one spot available in its 2014 class.

“The camp is very important,” Harris said. “… I’m the type of guy that sees competition as a challenge, and I’m not afraid of a challenge because to be the best you have to beat the best. I feel that if I put my mind to something, then I will get the job done.”

Cornwell, who’s already narrowed his list to Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and Virginia Tech, also knows the importance of a camp, not just at Alabama, but at every school.

“I’m sure every quarterback is different,” he said. “I think every offer I’ve gotten from almost every school is contingent on coming to a summer camp.

“With every school I go to, even if I’m not going to go there, I can still get better and learn football. If I go to a camp, all these guys obviously know what they’re doing. I can go in there. I can learn. If I only pick up four things, three things, I’m only a better football player.”

For Kizer, the situation was a little different. He was ready to go ahead and make a commitment before Alabama and LSU offered, but now he wants to delay his decision and at least try out for a starring role with the Tide or the Tigers.

“I actually really respect that process,” he said. “I believe a lot of schools throw offers out there. I love the fact they want to make sure you’re the guy they want. I don’t want to commit to a school and then they say this isn’t the guy we saw on film.”

If anything, Alabama knows what it’s getting with its quarterbacks. The staff is thorough with the evaluation, and it rarely takes a commitment early.

The lone exception came last year with ESPN 150 quarterback Cooper Bateman. He committed in May after visiting Tuscaloosa a month before. He still returned in June to throw in front of Saban at the Tide’s summer camp.

With just the one spot available this year, don’t expect the staff to take an early commitment again. The second audition will likely decide who wins the part.