Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Roll Tide-ings, a rundown of everything happening in Alabama Crimson Tide recruiting with Chris Kirschner. Today, we discuss the latest with University of California-Berkeley quarterback commit Adrian Martinez and uncommitted California quarterback prospect Tanner McKee.
Golden Bears QB commit still evaluating options
Wednesday night was just another school night for Adrian Martinez until it wasn’t.
He took a break from doing homework for a moment, went on Twitter and saw he had a direct message from Alabama outside linebackers coach Tosh Lupoi.
Lupoi told Martinez to call him when he was free — so he took an extended break from his homework. While on the phone with Lupoi, Martinez learned he received an offer from the Crimson Tide.
“He went through what makes Alabama great, as if I didn’t know Alabama was as legit as it gets,” Martinez said with a laugh. “They think I’m a good fit for what they are trying to do — an athletic quarterback who can really throw the ball.”
Martinez, a 4-star quarterback from Clovis West High School (Fresno, Calif.), was a celebrity at school and in his family on Thursday. Almost all of his family located all over the country called and texted him congratulations. Almost every single person he came in contact with him also congratulated him on the Alabama offer.
“So many kids in school were just like, ‘You’re completely big time now. You were big time before, but now you’re really big time,”’ Martinez said. “I was just like, ‘Thanks, man.”’
Martinez said he’s expecting to speak with coach Nick Saban and offensive coordinator Brian Daboll in the coming days. Right now, Martinez doesn’t know much about Alabama other than its success on the football field. Academics are very important to Martinez, so he’s planning on diving into specifics on the school’s different business finance programs in the coming days and weeks.
One of the main reasons why he committed to California was because of the school’s rich academic history. The University of California-Berkeley is consistently ranked as one of the best academic institutions in the country.
The nation’s No. 12 dual-threat quarterback committed to the Golden Bears in November. Two months later, the team fired Sonny Dykes. Martinez now is in the process of evaluating all of his options but is still wanting to give the new coaching staff a chance.
“I’m really in the process of developing a relationship with quarterbacks coach (Marques) Tuiasosopo, offensive coordinator (Beau) Baldwin and coach (Justin) Wilcox,” Martinez said. “It’s been a process. I see the culture they are trying to build there and I’m trying to see how I fit in there, and if it’s a good situation for me to go in there.”
Martinez is calculated when talking about “fit.” Fit doesn’t just include the scheme a team runs. It also includes academics, location of the school, depth chart and relationships with coaches. One of his good friends at Clovis West High School, Blake Schafer, will attend Alabama next year. Schafer took one visit to Tuscaloosa and fell in love with the city and school. Once he found out Martinez received the Crimson Tide offer, he made sure his friend heard the pitch on why he should go to school there, too.
“The first thing he said to me when he saw me (on Thursday) was Roll Tide,” Martinez said with a laugh. “He just told me about how good of a school Alabama is, how much fun he had visiting, how different the culture is and how much fun we would have together if I went there.”
The 6-foot-2, 200-pound prospect is planning on visiting Tennessee this spring, but he’s not sure if he’ll be able to visit Alabama, too, while on that trip. If not, he said he’s already discussed a summer trip to Tuscaloosa. In addition to that visit, depending on if the Tide have a commitment by then, he wants to take an official visit to Tuscaloosa, too.
Martinez is definitely interested in Alabama after getting the offer. He said Fresno State, Rutgers, Tennessee and West Virginia were the schools trying to flip him the hardest right now. When he speaks to Saban in the coming days, Martinez is planning to ask him how he exactly sees him fitting into the offense.
— Adrian Martinez (@MartinezTheQB) March 30, 2017
Lupoi, according to Martinez, sees a perfect fit.
“I have a similar skill set to Jalen Hurts, but they think I’m a better passer,” Martinez said. “They said he’s more of a running guy and they really want someone who can throw the ball. I can do that. I’m athletic and can throw the ball. I see myself fitting into that system in place right now. They have a pro-style system that can utilize a running quarterback and put them in good situations.”
Martinez is aware of the Tide’s depth chart at quarterback and knows the team signed two Class of 2017 signal callers. He said if Alabama is going to be a school he’s going to strongly consider moving forward, more research into when he could actually play in Tuscaloosa is needed.
“That would be more of a bigger factor,” Martinez said. “I won’t be able to escape competition no matter where I go. I’m going to have to compete anywhere. In saying that, I want to put myself in a good situation. I don’t want to go to a school that is so loaded and I may not play. There’s a lot to weigh and I’m going to have to figure that out.”
On the flip side, if he did commit to Alabama, Lupoi made it clear what the benefits of that would be. Martinez said it’s going to be hard to ignore the facts.
“He told me the facts of Alabama are this: The majority of your receiving corps are going to the NFL; the majority of your offensive linemen are going to the NFL; you’re going to have a stellar running back; you’re going to have arguably the best defense in the country,” Martinez said. “That, in itself, is amazing. The opportunity to play with that supporting cast is going to be hard to turn down.”
The West Coast quarterback threw for 2,484 yards and 25 touchdowns and rushed for 1,385 yards and 16 scores as a junior.
McKee can ‘absolutely’ see himself at Alabama
Tanner McKee was one of a handful recruits who visited Tuscaloosa on Thursday for Alabama’s spring practice. The elite 2018 quarterback was blown away by the Tide.
McKee, a 4-star prospect from Centennial High School (Corona, Calif.), told SEC Country that after his first visit to Alabama, he can “absolutely” see himself playing for the Crimson Tide.
“I honestly loved everything about my visit (on Thursday),” McKee said. “They will be one of my top choices when I commit.”
The nation’s No. 7 pro-style quarterback in the Class of 2018 is going to have a unique path. McKee is a devout Mormon. He will do a two-year mission after he graduates from high school. The plan right now is to commit to a school before the year ends, but signing a national letter of intent with that university remains an unknown.
Effectively, McKee will be a Class of 2020 prospect. By then, however, he’ll be more physically mature than the true 2020 recruits coming out of high school. That’s why schools are still recruiting him as strongly as if he was truly a part of the Class of 2018.
Alabama has no qualms about McKee’s plans to not enroll in college until 2020. In fact, McKee said the entire coaching staff made sure to welcome him in with open arms on Thursday.
“I felt like all of the coaches went out of their way to spend time with me and make me feel welcomed,” McKee said. “I loved all the coaches I met. They all had a ton of experience behind them and I really liked how precise and intense practice was.”
The Elite 11 invitee said he had a chance to speak to Saban in his office for around 45 minutes. Saban listed all of the attributes that are important for his quarterbacks to have. McKee said Saban told him he’s a perfect fit for his offense.
“He said my accuracy, my ability to make the right reads and having the ability to make plays with my feet were the things that most impressed him about my game,” McKee said. “I really appreciated that.”
McKee completed 72.5 percent of his passes for 3,522 yards and 36 touchdowns as a junior while rushing for 539 yards and 15 touchdowns. Like Martinez above, both quarterbacks are true passing quarterbacks first, not just athletes under center who can throw the ball, too.
After talking to several quarterbacks who have talked with Brian Daboll, it’s clear that Alabama will have more of a pro-style offense this season with spread elements. The early returns on Daboll from the recruits is that the former New England Patriots tight ends coach is very personable and passionate.
“He is incorporating a lot from what he learned from the Patriots,” McKee said. “He feels my accuracy and ability to throw the ball will fit in well. He was just really personable and cool.
“He was one of my favorite coaches I met.”
McKee said he’s planning on making it back to Tuscaloosa for a game this fall. After one visit to Tuscaloosa, Alabama has become a serious contender for McKee.