Xavier McKinney’s commitment to Alabama on Wednesday wasn’t an easy one.
According to the 4-star safety from Roswell High School, the Crimson Tide were neck-and-neck with both Clemson and Tennessee.
What worked in Alabama’s favor? For starters, the chance to play early as a freshman.
“I feel like they give me the best chance to improve as a player and get me to the next level,” McKinney told SECCountry.com. “It’s a great atmosphere and I felt something special there that I haven’t felt anywhere else. (Defensive coordinator Kirby Smart) told me I would be able to come in and make a big impact my first year and even start. That was big.”
McKinney says his relationship with Smart also proved to be a big factor. He admits that he had a closer relationship with Smart than any other coach on the recruiting trail.
The 6-foot-1, 180-pounder, who reported three other offers, has unofficially visited Alabama three times, with his most recent visit coming on Sept. 19.
McKinney is the seventh recruit to pledge to Alabama for the class of 2017 and the first safety overall. He joins an already stout group that includes 5-star running back Najee Harris of Antioch, Calif., and 4-star receiver D.D. Bowie of Morton, Miss.
He will unofficially visit Clemson later this season.