Nick Saban is arguably the best college football recruiter in the country, but what are the odds that he can out-pitch Urban Meyer and Ohio State—equally as prolific in recruiting—for 5-star safety Vonn Bell?
The truth is, no matter who he's going up against, it's hard to count out Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide.
247Sports has Ohio State and Tennessee on top of Bell's interest list, followed closely by Alabama, but Michael Carvell of AJC.com reports that rumors state Alabama is the leader for Bell, even though his coach, Mark Mariakis, says otherwise:
Alabama is the rumored frontrunner because of Ohio State’s distance and Tennessee’s struggles. However, Bell’s coach claims there is not a leader.
“He does not have one,” Mariakis said. “We talk all the time, and he is torn between all three. They all three bring something different and positive to the table. It was a tough choice going from seven colleges to three, and it’s going to be a tougher choice going from three to one. That’s not just a politically correct answer, it’s the truth. It’s just a very tough decision for him.
Where is Tennessee in all of this? It's safe to say that Derek Dooley and the Volunteers are highly outmatched in this instance. The Vols are 3-4 and have lost their past three games with a combined score of 136-88. Dooley is firmly on the hot seat in Tennessee, so unless something changes, the Volunteers will be at a severe advantage.
That means it comes down to Saban vs. Meyer for the 5-star safety, so what are the odds Saban comes away the winner in this heavyweight recruiting fight?
If it came down to prestige, I'd have to say both schools were pretty even. Both Alabama and Ohio State are nationally-renowned programs and Saban and Meyer have five national championship wins between them as coaches.
That leaves it up to preference, so the advantage is rather obvious as to who can win over the 5-star safety prospect from Rossville, Georgia.
Saban is known for producing near-NFL-quality defenses, while Meyer is more of an offensive mind. Alabama is currently giving up only 8.3 points per game, and this is the same program that shut out the LSU Tigers in last year's National Championship Game mind you.
One of the major players on that Championship team, safety Mark Barron, was drafted No. 7 overall in the 2012 NFL draft after notching 229 tackles, four sacks, 12 interceptions and a touchdown in four years with 'Bama.
Saban can pitch Bell on the chance of playing in a defensive system that makes some NFL teams jealous, and that gives him a huge advantage over Meyer and Ohio State. He can also point to what Barron did with Alabama as an example of what he can do with Bell if the 5-star safety were to chose his program.
If this were a wide receiver or running back then maybe it would be a different story, but considering Bell has what it takes to be an elite safety at the college level, I would say the odds are extremely high that Saban and the Crimson Tide can recruit him over Meyer and the Buckeyes.