Alabama Football: Darius Paige's Former HS Coach Lobs Serious Accusation at Tide

Barrett Sallee@BarrettSalleeSEC Football Lead WriterAugust 8, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 06:  Head Coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide talks to the media at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on January 6, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  LSU and Alabama will play in the BCS National Championship on January 9th.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Fall camps have started, but recruiting drama never sleeps.

Darius Paige, a 6'4", 285-pound defensive tackle who is transferring to Foley (Ala.) High School, finds himself in the headlines after a coach at his former high school in Pensacola, Fla., lobbed some pretty serious accusations at the University of Alabama.

Speaking to the Pensacola News Journal, George Schellang, an assistant coach at Washington High School in Pensacola, said that Paige transferred from Washington to Foley at the request of Jeremy Pruitt, an Alabama assistant coach:

Darius came in the office one day during the summer after coach (Mike) Smith left and sat down and told me coach Pruitt, who is the Alabama coach who was recruiting him, wanted him to go to Foley High School. Basically, he said (Foley High) could take care of him academically.

My reaction was shock and dismay that a Division I coach would tell a high school athlete that he needed to transfer, that they had people there to help.

Schellang told the PNJ that the matter has been reported to the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) and the NCAA.

As long is it's within the rules, I'm all right with players transferring to face better competition or get better coaching. But the quote in the story suggests that it could be much more than that.

To be clear, being "taken care of academically" could mean a variety of things ranging from better teachers to more one-on-one time to anything else that could be completely within the rules.

It also could mean something much more scandalous, and the fact that Schellang reported the matter to two governing bodies certainly adds fuel to that fire.

Foley head coach Todd Watson denied the allegations that his school acted improperly to the Mobile (Ala.) Press-Register, saying, "(The PNJ article) insinuated that we just give away grades, (and) that's obviously not the case."

The Press-Register points out that Foley has produced several Alabama stars lately, including offensive lineman D.J. Fluker, wide receiver Julio Jones and safety Robert Lester.

If Schellang is accusing Pruitt of steering players to a high school to get them eligible, he has zoomed past Ralph Cindrich and made himself public enemy No. 1 to Crimson Tide Nation. Unlike Cindrich, Schellang is insinuating something specific, rather than just lobbing broad-based allegations.

Paige isn't the first college football prospect to transfer into the state of Alabama this summer.

Reuben Foster, the nation's No. 1 overall inside linebacker prospect and Auburn commit, transferred from Troup County High School in LaGrange, Ga., to Auburn High School in Auburn, Ala. Foster was an Alabama commit at the time of his transfer.



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