How Alabama football is using its NFL Draft dominance to court recruits

Cecil Hurt
The Tuscaloosa News
4/19/21 MFB vs SteakandBeans
Alabama Head Coach Nick Saban 
Alabama defensive back Brian Branch (14)
Photo by Kent Gidley

Recruiting rarely rests around the Alabama football program. Attracting top talent is a big part of Nick Saban’s process. 

But on one of the most important days on the recruiting calendar, particularly when on-campus visits by prospects have been curtailed for more than a year, Alabama is using social media to impress a message on those prospects.

Alabama’s graphics department has been active in that area for years and started early on Thursday by using its NFL Draft dominance to court prospects.

Jay Valai, the new secondary coach at Alabama, was tagged by prospect Isaiah Bond in retweeting his Alabama draft graphic. Valai joined the Crimson Tide staff last February.

Alabama has produced far more NFL Draft selections, overall and in the first round, than any other college program over the past 10 seasons. Even when the messages aren’t personalized with the “Not If But When” tag line, the official Alabama football account makes sure that prospects and the general public are aware. 

While the weekend will feature more draft updates from Alabama’s recruiting office, Saban has emphasizes factors that mean more than just natural ability.

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"I spent eight years in the NFL, which means I sat through eight drafts,” Saban said during an appearance at the Louisiana Football Coaches Association last week. “Which meant it’s not just the draft. It’s two weeks of preparing for the draft. Then two weeks of getting questions answered and then two more weeks of getting ready for the draft. So I’m talking about listening to 1,000 draft reports.

“And I tell our players all the time, the two most compelling words in the draft report (are) ‘and’ and ‘but.' I’ll take a defensive back. He’s got quick feet, change of direction. He’s got good long speed. Can play man-to-man. He’s a good tackler, he’s got toughness. Got really good ball judgment and really good ball skills — and he’s a good person, he was a leader on the team, he graduated from school, coaches loved him.

“Read the same player, — but he got a positive drug test . . . he got a domestic violence incident with his girlfriend, he got a fight in a bar when he was a freshman. ... Who do you want on your team? And or but?

“What I tell players is you don’t realize that as soon as you apply for a job, as soon as you put your name in for the draft, people are looking for reasons not to pick you. They’re looking for reasons not to hire you. So don’t give anybody a reason to say ‘but.'”

Reach Cecil Hurt at or via Twitter @cecilhurt