Even in the hypercompetitive market that is recruiting baseball players in the SEC, the University of Alabama has a fair amount to pitch.
Sewell-Thomas Stadium is among the newer stadiums in the league; Brad Bohannon and his coaching staff have respectable track records of catapulting players to successful professional careers. The challenge of the SEC is itself a selling point.
While those factors play into UA’s recruiting pitch, they aren’t the ones that seem to seal the deal.
“They didn’t pitch a certain thing. It was coaches are going to care about you,” said Evan Heager, a 2023 prospect from Michigan who is committed to UA. “They want the program to be the best as it can possibly be and they’re all committed to the program.”
UA baseball has been on a roll on the (digital) recruiting trail, getting commitments from nine prospects since June 1. A blend of relationship building with UA coaches and the beginning of a turnaround displayed in the shortened 2020 season has UA in the midst of a strong recruiting summer.
“The relationship I have with the coaches, it’s next to none,” Haeger said. “They care about me as a person and as an athlete. I got to talk to the guys for a while and I felt like Tuscaloosa was the right place for me.”
Two of those commits will be on campus this fall: Hunter Ruth, a junior college pitcher who started his career at Florida, and Will Patota, a hitter out of Southern Union State Community College. Two more are Tuscaloosa products in the class of 2021, catcher Hunter Sute and pitcher Nathan Shelton, both out of American Christian Academy.
The run of commitments has included a significant addition to its 2021 class, with infielder Braylon Myers and pitcher Connor Ball joining Shelton and Sute. It has also included Carter Stanford and Skyler Hutto, pitchers in the 2022 class, and 2023 prospects Jansen Kenty and Evan Haeger.
“I just know they’re headed in the right direction and I want to be a part of it,” Shelton said. “They talk about how I could fit into the rotation, how I could help, their goals for next year.”
For the first couple of years of the Bohannon era, UA was selling a vision for success, a path to it. Converting that into a 16-1 start to the 2020 season was a crucial step for some of its targets.
“That was big for me and my family, that we saw the growth that they were making this year,” Haeger said. “It made me comfortable with the decision.”
Reach Brett Hudson at 205-722-0196 or firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter, @Brett_Hudson