UPDATE: The University of Alabama officially announced Tray Sanders as a 2019 signee shortly after midnight on Wednesday.
I was making the lengthy journey from Port St. Joe, Fla., to Atlanta on Wednesday evening when I was informed that Alabama has yet to announce the signing of Trey Sanders, the nation’s No. 1 running back who committed to Crimson Tide on ESPN earlier that day. Sanders put on the baseball cap of Alabama over UGA, Florida State, Florida and Texas.
The ESPN announcement was at 1 pm EST, and Sanders was asked point-blank by reporters if he had signed his binding letter of intent with Alabama. He said he had not, but he intended to do so later that day with his family.
So what are we to think that Alabama has yet to announce Sanders’ signing? It could be nothing or it could be something. Maybe Sanders wants more time to think about his decision? Maybe he finally got around to signing his Alabama papers too late on Wednesday and simply was going to send everything in on Thursday morning? Who knows?
I do know this: Because Sanders is rated as the nation’s No. 1 running back, this will be one of the hottest topics in recruiting until his LOI paperwork is finalized.
Here is an one-on-one interview with Sanders’ father, Delmon Sanders, after Wednesday’s ceremony. Note: If you had a chance to catch the ESPN telecast, you will notice in the video below that his father accidentally put on a Florida State hat for a few seconds after Sanders committed to Alabama.
Your son picked Alabama, but was there some point you thought he might go to Georgia? “It was close. It was pretty close. But in the end, his heart was with Bama. It really was. Georgia made a serious push. Their coaches made some valid points. They did a good job recruiting him. But in the end, his heart was just with Bama.”
Did the depth chart at both schools play into the decision? “He has the mindset that he wants to compete. He went to IMG Academy to compete. He wants to play against the best – that way you can gauge yourself. But he has a relationship with all the guys in the backfield at both schools. He knows them all. Bama just was on his heart. He woke up this morning, and Bama was just on his heart. We didn’t make any phone calls (before his announcement on ESPN) to any coaches to tell them we weren’t coming. This was done a couple of hours ago. It was that serious. It was between three schools until just a couple of hours ago.”
And those three schools? “Alabama, Georgia and Florida State. Willie Taggart is a great recruiter, and he is a great guy. He came in and did an in-home visit. You want him to win. I’m a Florida State fan. But Taggart is a … great coach. He is going to bring that program back. Trey really considered going there to help him, but at the same time Trey wanted to do what he felt was right for him right now. (Trey) told me last night that if he was coming out in 2020, he would probably go to Florida State because he knows that Willie is going to win this year.”
I know your son got to know UGA quarterback Justin Fields in the recruiting process. Fields informed the Bulldogs this week that he was exploring a transfer. Did that impact how your son felt about UGA in making his college decision? “No. Not at all. Not at all. Justin Fields, he is a great athlete and a great quarterback … all this and that. But it didn’t have any effect (on Trey’s decision). I think I mentioned it to Trey, and he was like ‘Oh, OK.’ It didn’t have any bearing on his decision at all.”
Oh no! Pops! What are you doing!!! pic.twitter.com/dFmReqZADq
— Jack McGuire (@JackMacCFB) December 19, 2018