Antonio Alfano’s eight-week saga came to an end Wednesday with his appearance in the transfer portal.
The freshman defensive end for the University of Alabama, after abandoning contact with the program for weeks, returned to make official his intent to transfer, TideSports.com has learned.
Alfano’s absence from practice was a common occurrence as the season drew near, beginning with the final days before the season opener against Duke. His absence continued through the week of the New Mexico State game (Sept. 7), after which Saban said Alfano was, “going through some discipline things with me.”
Four days later, on Wednesday of South Carolina week (Sept. 11), Saban elaborated with harsh words.
“He’s kind of disappeared a little bit,” Saban said then. “I talked to our team today about the fact that, you know, people make mistakes. We all make mistakes: I make mistakes, probably everyone in this room makes mistakes, we make mistakes as parents, we make mistakes as coaches, we make mistakes in just about everything we do. But I think you compound the problem when you don’t confront the mistakes you make and you create greater consequences for yourself because of the choices and decisions you make after you make a mistake.”
Two days later, on Sept. 13, Antonio Alfano’s father, Frankie Alfano, said in a thread of tweets that Antonio’s grandmother had recently fallen ill, confirming that Antonio had not attended practice or classes since then. Frankie Alfano praised UA for the support it offered Antonio and stated his belief that UA is the best place for him; Frankie also said Antonio asked to be placed in the transfer portal.
Five days later, on Sept. 18, Saban addressed the situation for what had been the final time before Wednesday.
“Well I don’t really know much about that (the family statement), I just know that the guy basically quit,” Saban said then. “He quit going to class, he quit coming here, we tried to help him, we tried to encourage him, we tried to set up counseling sessions with him to help him in every way we could and all those things are still available to him if he wants them, but he didn’t respond to any of the things. Until he responds, you just have to assume the guy quit.”
Alfano was the top defensive signee of UA’s 2019 recruiting class, according to the 247 Sports Composite, where he was ranked as the best defensive end in the nation, the best player in the state of New Jersey and the fifth-best prospect in the nation, regardless of position. His presence could have boosted UA’s thin defensive line depth, but it became evident weeks ago that he would not be of help for the 2019 season.
Alfano could have been an heir apparent to Raekwon Davis after his UA career ends this season, plus the wake of LaBryan Ray if the junior chooses to enter the 2020 NFL Draft. Instead, the current crop of defensive ends — sophomore Phidarian Mathis and freshmen Justin Eboigbe and Byron Young — will have to be aided by a group of six defensive linemen currently committed to UA’s 2020 class.