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Wednesday, July 17, 2013
N.J. receiver center of Bama-LSU battle

By Jared Shanker

A New Jersey receiver now finds himself in the middle of the most heated recruiting rivalry in the country.

Manalapan (N.J.) High and ESPN 300 receiver Saeed Blacknall is coming off visits to Alabama and LSU on back-to-back days. He thought he was closing in on a decision before the visits -- likely to LSU -- but he now is further away from a commitment.

“It’s kind of like I don’t know at this point. I’m taking it all in,” Blacknall said. “When I get back home, I’ll kind of know. I’m waiting to see how everything plays out.”

LSU has led for the No. 111 player in the country since he visited the Tigers back in the spring. He officially put them atop his list of five favorites in May -- then listed Alabama as his No. 2.

Notre Dame, Florida State and Ohio State round out his top five, but Blacknall is not sure whether he will visit any of those schools before he makes a commitment, which could come soon.

“My plan is to commit before the season. It’s whichever place that I feel comfortable at,” he said. “I’ll let it all play out, but I’m definitely not letting it go into my season.”

The Alabama visit was the first time Blacknall made it to the Crimson Tide’s campus in Tuscaloosa. He wanted to get a chance to see the facilities and the school, so he spent most of his time checking out the campus with the tour guides. Alabama was hosting a camp Tuesday, so Blacknall did not get to talk as often with the coaches.

Mario Cristobal recruits New Jersey for the Tide and Billy Napier is the receivers coach, and those were the two coaches Blacknall talked most with.

“They said it’s a great fit for me and a great opportunity,” Blacknall said. “I’m really high on the list. They really want me.”

An LSU lean going into his visit, Blacknall said a week before his visits he would not be committing to either school while on campus. He wanted to return home and talk it over with his family before making a decision.

A determining factor in Blacknall’s recruitment will be his ability to see the field early, and the Tigers hosted their four top receiving targets at their camp Monday: Blacknall, Malachi Dupre, Speedy Noil and Trey Quinn. None are committed to the Tigers, so Blacknall cannot say definitely as to how it effects his recruitment. However, if LSU were to hit a grand slam and score all four commits, Blacknall said it would make him question just how committed LSU is to him.

For now, Blacknall is “humbled” his recruitment could come down to Alabama and LSU.

“The two top schools in the nation from the top conference, it’s pretty cool,” he said. “It may or may not be the place I am going to be at. It’ll be what does this place have that this place doesn’t.”