Thursday, February 7, 2013
Mike Groh helps Tide land No. 1 class
By Greg Ostendorf
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- When the ink dried Wednesday night, the University of Alabama came away with the No. 1 recruiting class for the second year in a row. Coach Nick Saban garners most of the attention, but the job done by his staff should not go unnoticed.
Defensive coordinator Kirby Smart deserves credit for staying with Reuben Foster. The ESPN 150 linebacker initially committed to Alabama and then flipped to Auburn. But in the end, he signed with the Crimson Tide. Smart never gave up on him.
However, looking back at this class three or four years down the road, a lesser-known coach might have had the biggest impact.
Alabama recruiting coordinator Mike Groh was responsible for many of the Tide's late additions to the 2013 class.
Liner might have been his best work. The in-state defensive lineman, ranked No. 26 in the ESPN 150, committed to Auburn as a sophomore. Groh served as his main Tide contact and never stopped recruiting him. The Tide were regulars at Muscle Shoals High School. Groh went to a number of Liner's games and maintained a relationship with Liner.
“He’s probably the best recruiter that ever recruited me,” Liner said. “We always stayed in touch with each other to see how each other was doing -- even on Sundays.”
Eventually, Liner decommitted from the Tigers, and when it came time to sign his letter of intent, there wasn’t even a question mark. He was going to Alabama.
The surprise of the Tide’s 2013 class was Robinson. He was committed to Texas for nearly a year, but just a week before signing day, he decommitted from the Longhorns. On Wednesday, he signed with the Tide. Again, it was Groh who spearheaded the recruiting efforts.
Groh and Saban made an in-home visit with Robinson in late January. Later that week, he told Texas he was going to decommit.
The recruit fans might forget is Tenpenny, an ESPN 150 running back. There was no drama on signing day, but that doesn’t mean there was never any drama.
He committed to Alabama more than a year ago, but fending off Arkansas -- the hometown school -- and persuading Tenpenny to come to Tuscaloosa despite having three other top backs in the class was no easy feat for Groh.
The Alabama assistant coach just finished his second season with the Tide, and he has quickly become one of the top recruiters in college football. In his two years as recruiting coordinator, Alabama has finished with back-to-back No. 1 classes.