Alabama football coach Nick Saban talks in-person recruiting, NIL, transfer rules, chemistry

Jerell Rushin
The Tuscaloosa News

VESTAVIA HILLS — Alabama football had recruits on campus this week at the first Nick Saban Football Camp of the summer.

Speaking on the front lawn of the Old Overton Club before the 15th annual Nick’s Kids Golf Tournament on Thursday morning, Saban said having video calls was certainly a better option than phone calls during an NCAA-mandated dead period for recruiting due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but nothing compares to building relationships in-person again.

"Getting to meet people and sit there and look at them eye-to-eye with their parents as well as the prospects is something that I've always really enjoyed," Saban said.

Two days after the NCAA's 15-month recruiting dead period ended, Saban detailed Alabama's experience without seeing recruits in-person for more than a year.

RECRUITING: What Alabama football's Nick Saban (and recruits) missed during NCAA's 15-month dead period

RECRUITING: Top 2021 football recruit J.T. Tuimoloau to visit Alabama in June, sets official visits

"I've missed being and having normal in-person, face-to-face contact with people," Saban said. "But I think we all did a very good job relative to the circumstances we were in when we couldn't have them to do the best job we could do develop them over Zooms.

"We Zoomed every aspect of our program that a player would be exposed to on a visit: whether it was player panels, medical staff, academic folks, strength and conditioning folks. Is it the same as face-to-face? Probably not, but it's the best we could do, and I'm glad we we're back to normal."

Saban also spoke about whether newly passed name, image and likeness laws that that allow college athletes to make money, as well as transfer rules.

"We don't have any experience with this name, image and likeness thing, how it's going to impact individuals on the team," Saban said. "But the business decision that we try to get our players to make relative to first-round picks — guys that have those kinds of ratings, sometimes they fall into the second round.

"Guys in the second round can improve their (NFL) drafts status. Those are the guys that have gone out for the most part for us. I don't think there's going to be enough significance in the name, image and likeness that the millions of dollars they can make going out for the draft would it impact that or affect it. But again, we don't have any experience with it, so we don't know how it's going to impact guys and their futures."

SEC presidents will vote on intraconference transfer rules Thursday. Saban said Alabama has to adapt if the league approves it. Alabama landed former Tennessee linebacker Henry To’o To’o in May.

"I don't know what will happen ... when they vote on that ordeal," Saban said. "I know that all the other conferences have said you can intraconference transfer. I have no idea what the outcome of that will be. We'll just have to wait and see."

Alabama tied an NFL Draft record in April when six of its players were selected in the first round. Ten Alabama players were taken overall. Saban spoke about developing chemistry for the season.

"It's always a work in progress," Saban said, "but I do think the summer program is where the leadership on the team has the best chance to flourish because the coaches aren't always around — so the players have more input in doing 7-on-7 and those types of things the coaches aren't allowed to be out there (for)."

Saban said the program has a significant number of people vaccinated, and is close to the threshold that allows Alabama to not test individuals for COVID-19.

The golf tournament benefits Nick's Kids Foundation, Saban and his wife Terry's charity. The Nick's Kids Foundation is building its 18th home in a project with Habitat for Humanity, each home in honor of an Alabama national championship.