MILLBROOK, Ala. — When you walk out to Stanhope-Elmore’s football field, a large sign with all of Dee Milliner’s accomplishments greets you.
Milliner, the former Alabama star cornerback, was a two-time national champion and unanimous All-American before he was drafted ninth overall by the New York Jets in 2013.
Stanhope-Elmore coach Jeff Foshee is a national champion, too. He played on Alabama’s 1992 championship team.
Foshee’s current tight end, Zech (pronounced Zach) Byrd, could be headed to Alabama himself when he makes his college decision.
Foshee admits that he’s a fan of Alabama. He makes it to every game he can. But he’s clear that he isn’t pushing Byrd to go to his alma mater, though a smile crosses his face when he thinks about his player putting on that Crimson Tide jersey come 2017.
“It would tickle me to death,” Foshee told SEC Country. “When you go into my office, I have the 1992 national championship jersey hanging in there. Of course, it would mean a lot to me. I want him to do what’s best for him though and be happy.”
Byrd is mainly considering three schools right now: Alabama, Florida and Georgia, even though the Bulldogs have not offered yet.
The nation’s No. 24 tight end got into the recruiting game late. He didn’t get his first offer (Troy) until this past February. Once the Trojans offered him a scholarship, in a span of eight days, Alabama, Florida, Ole Miss, Michigan, Kentucky, Toledo and Southern Miss followed suit.
Byrd, a three-star tight end, credits Foshee with getting him into football. The 6-foot-6, 243-pounder was predominantly a basketball player before Foshee laid his eyes on Byrd. He didn’t develop into a key role in Stanhope-Elmore’s offense until his junior season.
“As a ninth grader, he was around 6-foot-4, 190 pounds,” Foshee said. “When you have a guy that young with that length, you have to put him on the field somewhere. I just told him that he needed to come out and play football because he’ll have some big-time folks looking at him.”
Those “big-time folks” have flowed in and out of Foshee’s program this spring. So many coaches have come by that Byrd has lost count of them all.
The Alabama staff has told Byrd that he’s the No. 1 tight end target on the board right now. Every school that’s after him has told him the same.
“That’s pretty impressive to be the No. 1 tight end on the board at the No. 1 school in the country,” Foshee said. “I don’t want him to get complacent with that title though. I tell him the same thing I told Dee when he was here, ‘Don’t let the success get to your head.’ If you keep working like you are now, you’ll be paid to do this one day.”
Foshee expects Byrd to be a major contributor on offense this season. With that, more offers will likely come his way over the next several months.
No matter which school Byrd chooses, Foshee said he is going to be proud of him regardless.
“I played at Alabama. Would I love for him to go to Alabama? Yes, definitely,” Foshee said. “But I would be just as proud of Zech Byrd as if he went to Florida, Georgia or anywhere else. I want him to be successful and happy with his decision.”
All rankings are provided by the 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted.
Chris Kirschner covers Alabama football recruiting for SECCountry.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play in Bryant-Denny.