As Alabama prepares to take on Notre Dame in the BCS National Championship game on Monday night, good news is already hitting the wire for the Crimson Tide regarding next season's squad.
According to al.com (h/t hardballtalk) major league baseball player Jai Miller is returning home to the state of Alabama after 10 seasons as a pro baseball player in order to join the Alabama Crimson Tide football program starting in 2013.
The soon-to-be 28-year-old was a three-star prospect, according to Rivals.com, when he was a athlete prospect from Selma, Ala. He originally committed to Stanford over offers from both in-state programs, Auburn and Alabama.
He is a 6’2”, 220-pound athlete that has the speed and range that could help this Alabama team from day one. He is older than possibly some coaches, so his work ethic and maturity will put him at a level that most new players can't bring to the table.
Miller is leaving baseball after a 10 year career that saw stints with the Marlins, Athletics, Royals and, most recently, the Orioles.
He only had 68 total at-bats in the top level of baseball in 10 years, so instead of becoming a career minor leaguer, he has decided to return to college and earn a degree.
According to the HardballTalk report, he is expected to play defensive back for the Tide. His size would likely place him at the safety position. This is a huge pickup for Alabama, as it may not include the need for a scholarship.
Adding a talent of this level without having to give up a scholarship spot is a huge win for the program. Most baseball contracts include college payment provisions when the athlete is signed straight out of high school.
It should take some time for Miller to transition back into the game of football, but given a spring and summer session, he may be able to contribute as soon as this fall. He has been playing baseball since 2003 at the professional level, so he should be in good shape and be ready to compete from day one.
This was a great hidden gem of a pickup for the Alabama program.