The saga of Muscle Shoals (Ala.) High School defensive lineman Dee Liner took a rather expected turn on Jan. 14, when the 4-star defensive tackle de-committed from the Auburn Tigers and opened his recruitment back up.
Now that the 6'2", 274-pounder is back on the market, who is the favorite?
Clearly, it's Alabama.
When Liner de-committed from Auburn, he told Justin Hokanson of AuburnSports.com (subscription required) that Alabama was one of his favorites and that there just wasn't enough time to get acquainted with the coaching staff.
"Alabama is one of my favorites, but my de-committing from Auburn has nothing to do with Alabama," Liner said. "I've been holding it in, I just had to get it off my shoulders."
Miami (Fla.) is in the mix for Liner's services, and yesterday's revelation that the NCAA is investigating itself for improper conduct in the Nevin Shapiro investigation certainly makes the Hurricanes a little bit more appealing.
With that being said, let's not be naive—Liner is all Alabama, and has been for a long time.
In fact, he did Auburn a favor by de-committing on Jan. 14, rather than waiting until National Signing Day to make a last-minute flip. Now Auburn can move on knowing Liner isn't an option, instead of hanging on to that one glimmer of hope until it was too late.
For Liner, what's not to like about Alabama?
Tuscaloosa is a mere 119 miles from his home in Muscle Shoals. He'd have the opportunity to get coaching from the best defensive mind in college football in head coach Nick Saban. Furthermore, he has the opportunity to compete for some early playing time with defensive linemen Damion Square and Quinton Dial gone. He could grow into the nose guard spot formerly occupied by Jesse Williams, but would have to put on about 30 pounds.
Plus, it's a pipeline to the NFL. The Crimson Tide had six defensive players drafted in last year's NFL draft, and nine over the last three years. That number is only going to increase, as the latest crop of stud Alabama defenders move on to the next level.
Is Liner a lock to Alabama?
Until he signs his name on the dotted line, it's never a sure thing in the recruiting world. Let's just say the key is in the door and the dead bolt is starting to turn.