Alabama commit Xavier McKinney didn’t really know how big of a priority he was before taking a trip to Tuscaloosa, Ala., Friday for the start of spring practice.
There was a point where McKinney, a four-star safety from Roswell (Ga.) High School, wasn’t hearing from the Crimson Tide coaches. After this trip to Alabama though, he said it reinforced his commitment to the Tide.
“I needed this trip. It was good for me to take,” McKinney told SEC Country. “It was good for me to know that they still want me there, tremendously, as well as my family.”
McKinney was supposed to make the trip with his mother, but she couldn’t make it. That’s important because the last time she was on campus, the trip wasn’t so smooth.
The two visited for the LSU game this past season and the staff didn’t really pay them much attention because it was an important matchup and 2016 recruits were the main focus.
One of the first things McKinney did when he got home from the practice was tell her how great of a time he had on campus.
“I told her about how this visit went this past time about how great they treated me and how they really let me know they still want me,” McKinney said. “I really want my family to like Alabama, too, and once I told her about that, she said she’ll definitely have to go back there. I think once she goes back, Alabama will definitely be one of her top schools.”
A main reason for why McKinney, the No. 11 safety in the country, had such a good visit to Tuscaloosa last Friday was because of Alabama defensive backs coach Derrick Ansley.
This was the first time he met face-to-face with the new coach.
“I was pretty much with him the whole time when they were in individual position groups,” McKinney said. “I talked to him during practice and afterwards in his office. We talked to each other a lot and I’m glad we got to do that.
“He’s a great coach. He’s a better guy and person. I feel like we have a great relationship. I feel like he could coach me and get me to that next level that I want to get to. He’s a cool, relaxed guy and someone I could relate to.”
Ansley isn’t the only college coach that McKinney clicks well with.
Georgia coach Kirby Smart, who recruited McKinney while he was the defensive coordinator at Alabama, has made the four-star prospect a priority.
Right after he finished his trip to Tuscaloosa, McKinney heard from the Georgia coach. Smart wants him to visit in the near future, which he will. McKinney wants to be super clear about one thing, though.
“I know some people think I’m going to de-commit and flip to Georgia,” he said. “They think because Kirby left, I’m just going to flip. Me, personally, I fell in love with Alabama and not just a coach. That’s something that more prospects need to consider.”
He continued and mentioned the recent de-commitments from Alabama, most notably four-star quarterback Jake Fromm and three-star wide receiver Tyler Simmons, who both flipped to Georgia.
“A lot of guys that may have flipped to Georgia from Alabama may have just been committed to a coach,” he said. “I don’t think that’s a good idea to just commit to a coach. As we’ve seen, there have been a lot of coaching changes. You should commit to the school and not any coach. That’s all I have to say about that.”
It doesn’t appear that Alabama has anything to worry about regarding McKinney’s commitment, despite the fact that he will continue to make visits. He’s rolling with the Tide.
All ratings and rankings are from 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.