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Cowan rethinking official visit plans
When Alabama commit VanDarius Cowan announced over a month ago that he was going to take all five of his official visits, it was a big change in his recruitment. Cowan, a 4-star linebacker from Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) High School, said Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Ohio State and Southern California were going to receive official visits.
Prior to that announcement, he said the only school he’d visit for the remainder of his recruitment would be located in Tuscaloosa. In an interview with SEC Country, Cowan said it’s possible he ends up not taking all of those visits.
“My mind changes a lot. Sometimes I’m just like, ‘I don’t really want to,’ ” Cowan said. “(Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy) Pruitt tells me to go take my visits and check out other schools. Sometimes I want to and then sometimes I don’t.”
The Army All-American is likely to still take his LSU visit, but there’s a reason for the trip that Alabama is going to like.
“I will probably go to LSU when they play Alabama because I know Alabama is going to win,” Cowan said.
LSU and Miami are the two schools trying the hardest to get Cowan to change his mind, but he’s locked in with his commitment to Alabama. He has de-committed twice before, when he was committed to Florida State, but it’s not happening again.
He openly talks about how he is uninterested about schools not named Alabama.
“I’m not flipping or anything like that,” Cowan said. “Ohio State wants me to come up for a visit, but I don’t really care for Ohio State that much. So, I don’t know if I want to visit.”
There’s a funny story about his potential trip to Southern California. Shortly after Alabama’s 52-6 blowout victory over USC, Pruitt got in touch with Cowan.
“Coach Pruitt asked me, ‘Do you still want to visit USC after that ass whooping?’ I was like, ‘Uh, I don’t know,’ ” Cowan laughed.
Those two have a very close relationship. It’s a big reason why Cowan ended up at Alabama. There was a good chance he would’ve ended up in Georgia’s class if Pruitt stayed with the Bulldogs.
Cowan is not sure when he’ll take his official visit to Alabama. He wants to visit for a competitive matchup, which is one of the main reasons why he isn’t convinced on visiting for the Auburn game at the end of November.
“The Iron Bowl would be a good experience, but I think the game is just going to suck,” Cowan said. “I think it’s just going to be a blowout.”
The nation’s No. 4 outside linebacker also is one of Alabama’s best recruiters. He’s currently working on getting 4-star defensive end Jarez Parks. Parks, who is being recruited by Alabama as a JACK, which is a hybrid of defensive end and outside linebacker, is favoring the Crimson Tide behind the scenes, according to a source.
Parks and Cowan hit it off when they were in Tuscaloosa back in July for the team’s invite only cookout. Cowan thinks there’s a good chance Alabama lands Parks when he makes his commitment.
“I think we have about a 75 to 80 percent chance of landing him,” Cowan said. “When we were up there we hung out a lot. As soon as he left, he texted me saying, ‘Bro, I have to come back up with you and work out.’ We had a good time. His mom also said she liked my character.”
Cowan is listed as an outside linebacker but will likely play inside for Alabama. He’ll enroll early at Alabama and is ready to carry the legacy that the linebackers before him have left at the school.
“It’s great to know that the program I’m going to that these coaches are preparing me for the next level,” Cowan said. “People always ask me why I chose Alabama. It’s because I’ve talked to guys like Reuben (Foster), Reggie (Ragland), Tim Williams, Raashan (Evans), Ben (Davis) and Mack (Wilson). It’s about the knowledge that you learn when you go to Alabama. Alabama is the best school for linebackers.”
Sterling opens up about his de-commitment
Aaron Sterling, a 3-star defensive end from Tucker (Ga.) High School, de-committed from Alabama on Sunday following a trip to N.C. State, but the thought of backing off of his commitment was in the works for two weeks.
Sterling told SEC Country at his Under Armour All-American jersey presentation ceremony that on Sunday he called defensive backs coach Derrick Ansley and outside linebackers coach Tosh Lupoi and told them the news.
From now on, he will not consider Alabama in his recruitment.
“I just know for sure after having a family discussion that Alabama is not going to be the place for me,” Sterling said. “The main talking points were if I fit the scheme, how well I relate to the coaches and if I’d go to that school if it wasn’t for football. After thinking about it, I couldn’t go to Alabama without football.”
That decision is a blow for Alabama’s plans in the Class of 2017. Sterling was liked by the Crimson Tide staff. One source close to the program told SEC Country that Sterling was rated higher on the team’s board than several top-rated prospects.
His choice to leave the class was not something Alabama pushed on him. But, it was the team’s choice of where Sterling was going to play that made the decision to de-commit a much easier one. He said he pictures himself strictly playing on the defensive line if he makes it to the NFL. That was not Alabama’s plan for him.
Several people close to Sterling asked him if he was sure he’d want to go to Alabama and play the JACK position. When thinking thoroughly about it, Alabama was no longer an option.
“I would have second thoughts when people asked that,” Sterling said. “It was hard, though, because I understand what Alabama can do for you. It just has its pros and cons. After talking with the people that are helping me with this process, they told me that I don’t really fit Alabama’s scheme. I really just want to play defensive line.”
Ansley and Lupoi, according to Sterling, were upset when the Under Armour All-American delivered the news. Both assistants told Sterling that there was a good chance he could play early with several linebackers leaving for the NFL draft after the season.
The decision to back out of his commitment had nothing to do with playing time, though.
“All I told them was that I just wasn’t feeling Alabama anymore,” Sterling said. “Alabama just didn’t feel like home for me anymore.
“Talking with my mom and dad, mainly the main people involved in my recruitment, we all came to the conclusion that Alabama wasn’t the right place for me. I just felt like I didn’t want to go to Alabama anymore. You know when you get one of those feelings like in your stomach? I just felt like (Alabama) wasn’t the place for me.”
Now that he’s back on the market, several schools are in the mix for Sterling. Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina and N.C. State have reached out to him. All of those schools want him to primarily play defensive line. He has official visits to South Carolina and N.C. State set up in December.
Sterling said those are really the only schools he’s considering at this time and isn’t looking for any other college to get in the mix.
The Under Armour All-American committed to Alabama on Christmas Day last year. Looking back on that decision, he feels like that day has led him to where he is now.
“I don’t regret (committing) at all,” Sterling said. “It kind of helped me get to where I am now. I really just would like to thank Alabama for giving me the opportunity and offering me a scholarship.”
All rankings are provided by the 247Sports composite unless otherwise noted.
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