- Greg Ostendorf, ESPN Staff Writer
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OPELIKA, Ala. -- The spring evaluation period is off to a fast start for the University of Alabama as in-state cornerback Stephen Roberts (Opelika, Ala./Opelika) committed to the Crimson Tide on Wednesday.
Roberts, whose other finalists included Auburn, Clemson and Vanderbilt, becomes the Tide’s fifth commitment for 2014.
“I chose Alabama because they kind of fit my style of play and the way I play,” Roberts said. “They’re a great defensive team, and that’s what I play, defense. They have a great atmosphere, fan base, everything is just great. Most of the corners get picked and succeed.”
Over the weekend, Roberts visited Tuscaloosa for Alabama’s spring game. During his trip, he let the cat out of the bag, telling the coaches he planned to commit in the near future.
“They started smiling. They were real happy,” Roberts said. “They told me they could use me because I can play corner or safety or nickel. I can play anything. They like corners who can play multiple positions.”
Opelika head coach Brian Blackmon used Roberts at multiple positions in the secondary last season, and the team made it all the way to the Class 6A state championship game.
“Stephen has tremendous speed,” Blackmon said. “He’s a very physical player for a corner. He played safety for us early on last year, his junior season, and really was doing a great job for us, but we always felt like his talent was better suited as a corner.
“He does a tremendous job playing press man because of the physicality that he brings. I think he’s got a bright future at Alabama.”
Roberts, who lives in Auburn’s backyard, has become a frequent visitor in Tuscaloosa. He’s also developed strong relationships with head coach Nick Saban and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, his main recruiter. Smart was at Opelika High School on Wednesday.
“I just think he felt comfortable there,” Blackmon said. “He’s been up there a couple of times and went up there for the A-Day game. He just felt comfortable, and I think he’s a good fit for them.”
Was it hard to turn down the local school?
“It was kind of difficult,” Roberts said. “Auburn’s a great school. It’s just Alabama fit me, the way I play and my style.”
Roberts doesn’t plan to take any visits to other schools.