When Victor Beasley attended his first football camp at the University of Alabama this past spring, he went into it having little idea what to expect. Growing up the son of a former Auburn football player hadn't lent to him spending a great deal of time following the Crimson Tide. He'd gained an interest the previous fall after attending a few games and being amazed by the game day atmosphere.
Beasley left Tuscaloosa with an entirely new perspective, naming the Tide the leader for his signature this coming February. He would have committed to Alabama if not for a request by his dad that he hold off and see a few more schools before making a final decision.
How did Alabama's coaching staff make such a quick impact on the rising star out of Adairsville, Georgia?
"The difference in Alabama and everyone else that is recruiting me is that Alabama is building relationships with me. They are not gimmicky. They shake your hand and talk to you like a man," Beasley told Rivals Recruiting site BamaOnline.
He added, "Coach [Nick] Saban and his staff all took the time to talk to me at the camp. Every single coach took the time to let me know they appreciated me coming to Tuscaloosa. That meant a lot to me."
Beasley stands 6'4" and weighs 215 lbs. while running a 4.5 40-yard dash. Size, speed, and athleticism like his are a rare combination, and coaches across the nation are starting to take notice. He's gone from a relative unknown to one of the hottest prospects in the nation after showing out at several camps this past spring and early summer.
Recruiting analyst Max Emfinger has even gone as far as to rate him the second best prospect in the country.
Beasley was one of a limited number of big-name recruits invited to Auburn's “Big Cat” weekend, but he opted not to go, stating his dad understood that he had a far stronger relationship with the coaching staff at Alabama than he did with Auburn's.
Stories like Beasley's have become common the last few years and are a huge reason why the Crimson Tide's recruiting staff has turned in back-to-back top-ranked signing classes. With 16 commitments already in the fold, not counting two probable re-signs from last year's class, and more than seven months remaining until signing day, it appears they could again be on their way to once again signing one of the best classes in the nation.
As always with a Saban recruiting class, there is plenty of quality to go along with quantity. The Tide already has commitments from the top quarterback in the nation in Phillip Sims, as well as the top cornerback in the nation in DeMarcus Milliner. Jarrick Williams is considered one of the top safety prospects in the country.
Though the state of Alabama is down a bit overall in talent compared to recent years, the Tide has once again managed to gather commitments from most of the top players in the state. Players like defensive end Craig Sanders would be considered top talent in any year. Defensive back Nick Perry and big, bruising tailback Jalston Fowler were both big-time early commits in state for the Tide.
With numbers down in the state of Alabama, Coach Saban made recruiting Georgia a top priority in 2010. Doing so has paid huge dividends with Alabama already securing four players for the 2010 class. Included so far from the Peach State are offensive linemen Austin Sheppard and JaWuan James. Ronald Carswell, one of the state's top receivers, wasted little time in committing to Alabama once he received an offer.
Perhaps the top athlete in the Peach State, Gainesville's Blake Sims, shocked everyone in the state when he committed to the Tide coach two days after receiving an offer.
The Tide has gone as far north as Virginia with the aforementioned Sims and as far west as Texas with punter Cade Foster and mammoth guard Chad Lindsey. It was the state of Tennessee, however, that produced Alabama's first commitment of the class.
Not 24 hours after Volunteers coach Lance Thompson declared that UT had placed a wall around the city of Memphis to prevent any of the talent it produces from escaping the state, receiver Keiwone Malone did just that, agreeing to sign with Alabama in 2010.
With 10 or fewer spots left in the 2010 class, the Tide expects to finish strong, hoping to land players such as all-world defensive backs Keenan Allen and John Fulton. Bama will likely add at least one more offensive lineman to its class with targets such as James Stone and Damien Robinson being likely candidates.
Wide receivers Markeith Ambles and Vincent Sanders are two likely targets Alabama would be interested in adding to their receiving roster.
There are possibly only three remaining players in the state of Alabama with committable offers from the Crimson Tide. Linebacker C.J. Mosley is a consensus top five player who has been pretty tight-lipped regarding his recruitment. Despite that, most observers feel in the end he will likely roll with the Tide.
Tailback Corey Grant and linebacker LaDarius Owens will both come down to an in-state battle between Alabama and Auburn, with the Tigers holding significant advantages with both players. Owens is the nephew of the first African-American player to ever suit up for the Tigers, and Grant hails from Auburn's backyard, attending high school in Opelika, Alabama.
It would seem highly unlikely that the Tigers would lose out on either prospect, but Grant may want to put a little distance between home and his college destination. With Owens having such close family ties to Auburn's past, it would seem highly unlikely for Alabama to sway him.
Then again, it hasn't helped Auburn so far with Victor Beasley.