- Radi Nabulsi, Reporter, DawgNation
NORCROSS, Ga. -- The Alabama coaches were not joking when they sent ESPN 150 running back Alvin Kamara (Norcross, Ga./Norcross) 105 recruiting letters back in February. In spite of the recent commitment of ESPN 150 athlete Derrick Henry (Yulee, Fla./Yulee) to the Crimson Tide, Nick Saban and Kirby Smart are still pursuing Kamara.
That might surprise plenty of Georgia fans who thought that Henry’s decision would send Kamara, who had named Georgia and Alabama as his leaders, straight to Athens, Ga.
“Coach Smart is out here tonight,” Kamara said. “They are still after me as hard as when it all started. They called me after Derrick committed. Coach Smart and I talked and he said, ‘You know we still want you as bad as we did before.’ Bama puts guys in the NFL and the atmosphere up there is crazy. I love it. I am comfortable when I get into Tuscaloosa.
“I feel the same way about Georgia and it is close to home. It has that homey feel to it. The fans are great -- two freshmen at running back -- there is nothing more you can ask for. Georgia and Bama: It is down to those two. I am still going to get some official visits in. I am going to go out to Oregon and probably USC. I’ll set up an official to UGA and give one to Bama. And that fifth one is to wherever.”
The nation’s No. 5 running back recently visited Georgia on an unofficial visit to see the Bulldogs host Tennessee.
“That was the first visit I have taken this year to actually see a game and that was a good one to go to,” Kamara said. “Todd Gurley and [Keith] Marshall were doing their thing – two freshmen playing. I mean they have a lot of other freshmen playing, too. It was a great game and I got to talk with Coach [Bryan] McClendon, Coach [Mark] Richt and Coach [Tony] Ball. It was a great environment to be in.”
The atmosphere at Georgia caught Kamara off guard, especially on his way to the stadium.
“The fans were crazy,” Kamara said. “We parked downtown and we were walking to the stadium and everybody knew me. They yelled, ‘Alvin! Commit! Commit!’ It was crazy. I didn’t know that many people in Athens knew who I was. There were just random people coming up to me, just patting me on the back and saying, ‘Alvin, come on let’s go. Commit.’ It was like a 15-minute walk because every step had someone saying, ‘Alvin, Alvin, Alvin,’ or something like that.”
At the game, Kamara watched Gurley and Marshall combine to rush for 294 yards and five touchdowns. Such numbers could have a chilling effect on Georgia tailback recruiting, but Kamara sees it differently.
“I see it as a positive,” Kamara said. “Two freshmen at running back is not really scaring me. They are two great backs and that is just a chance to get better. There is going to be competition everywhere you go. I mean, why not? Guys were tweeting at me, ‘They already have two freshmen running backs, come to FSU,’ or wherever. But Gurley and Marshall were probably thinking the same thing last year with Isaiah Crowell over there tearing it up. So it doesn’t matter to me.”
That comes as good news to the Georgia coaches, who spent a lot of time with Kamara while he was in town.
“They didn’t really have a pitch for me,” Kamara said. “The coaches and I are on a friend level. We don’t really talk about football, we just talk about life. I am a pretty smart kid and they know that I know what is going on. They just say it is on me now.”
That last part is a reference to how all eyes have turned to watch Kamara now that Henry has committed to Alabama.
“Derrick and I are real cool,” Kamara said. “I told him congrats and he told me, ‘It is your turn now.’ He wasn’t saying it was my turn to go to Bama but just my turn to pull the trigger. With Derrick committing to Bama, that doesn’t really faze my decision. Competition is everywhere so if I did end up going to Bama, it would be a great competition between me, Derrick, Tyren [Jones] (Marietta, Ga./Walton) and Altee [Tenpenny] (North Little Rock, Ark./North Little Rock).
Kamara had said he would make a decision by mid-September but he said he just wasn’t ready.
“It changed,” Kamara said. “I felt like I was being pressured a little bit when I said September. So I am just going with the flow -- nothing in the foreseeable future. It is all about when it feels right. I might wake up tomorrow and decide I want to go to Valdosta State.”