Willie Gay won’t reveal his entire top schools list, but he knows Alabama is one of those programs.
Gay, a four-star linebacker from Starkville (Miss.) High School, told SEC Country that Alabama is one of his top schools because of how much interest the Crimson Tide is showing him.
“To see a school that shows love like Alabama does, you just really have to appreciate that,” Gay said for why Alabama is in the mix at the top of his list.
Gay, who was just given an invite to the prestigious Nike “The Opening” finals in Oregon, a camp that showcases the top high school football players in America, expanded on why he has Alabama near the front of his mind.
“My interest level in Alabama is high because to see a school that wants you so much, it really puts in your mind like ‘man, I see how much this school really wants me,.’” Gay said. “It’s something to keep in mind and will really come in handy come signing day when you think about all of the schools that have had showed you love. I really appreciate that.”
When he makes his commitment on National Signing Day, the reason for why he will choose a school bodes well for Alabama’s chances. It’s very similar to what he said for why Alabama is one of his top schools.
“My decision will be based off the team that shows love for me and shows how much they really want and need me,” Gay said. “I want a school that talks the truth with me and not just tell me anything so I can come.”
The 6-foot-2, 216-pounder said Alabama is in contact all of the time, specifically defensive line coach Bo Davis. Davis has told Gay that Alabama views him as an inside linebacker.
Gay said he’s working on building a relationship with defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt. He met Pruitt for the first time last month for one of Alabama’s junior day events. Gay said the two clicked immediately.
“I really enjoyed myself with him,” Gay said. “Coach Pruitt was cool. I love all of their coaches at Alabama.”
Even though he plays his high school football just a short distance away from Mississippi State, the presumed favorite according to his 247Sports Crystal Ball, Gay wants to be clear that just because the school is close to his home, it doesn’t automatically mean he’ll attend Mississippi State.
“I really don’t go off of a school being right up the road or it being too far away when talking about attending that school,” he said. “I just want to go somewhere that fits me even if it’s in Michigan or in Ohio.”
He saw first-hand last season two teammates go through the recruiting process. Wide receiver A.J. Brown and defensive tackle Kobe Jones both will play college football in the SEC. Brown, who was a major Alabama target, decided to sign with Ole Miss; and Jones, another Alabama target, decided to stay close to home and signed with Mississippi State.
Those two players have told Gay to enjoy the process and not reveal too much information. It’s one of the reasons why he would not name other top schools other than Alabama and would not say which schools were coming after him the hardest.
But even though he wants to keep some of his recruitment close to his vest, it’s clear Alabama will be a contender for him all the way until signing day.
Gay is rated as the nation’s No. 18 outside linebacker and is the No. 4 prospect in the state of Mississippi.
— LOW_LIFE3 (@WillieYRN) March 22, 2016
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.