The national championship-winning Alabama Crimson Tide may have gotten cold feet regarding an in-state recruit. Now it looks like that recruit is waving goodbye to Nick Saban and the champs.
Riley Cole, a three-star linebacker who committed to Alabama last June out of Oneonta High, has decided to decommit from the Southeastern Conference powerhouse after the Tide asked him to grayshirt, stating his desire to “find a team that values me as a player,” per his Twitter account.
The grayshirt request, which requires incoming freshmen to delay official enrollment until their second semester, thereby extending his or her eligibility, is a fairly common practice in major college football. It’s essentially a delayed scholarship, as explained by Paul Myerberg of USA Today:
Schools use the grayshirt to add recruits without sacrificing scholarship numbers. Though a grayshirt graduates at the same time as other prospects, delaying the player’s enrollment allows a program to count that scholarship offer toward the following season’s total — making the grayshirt a helpful tool for those programs who tend to over-sign recruits.
But Cole noted that the late date of Alabama’s asking him to sit out a semester — he said it occurred just a few days before signing day — wasn’t going to fly, hence his decision to move on to another option.
What that option will be isn’t yet known. Cole’s 247 recruiting profile doesn’t indicate any other schools that he’s visited, making it unclear where he’ll turn to next.
Riley’s father, David Cole, called into an Alabama radio show after the news broke and said the decision was based on communication, or a lack there of, regarding the grayshirt request.
“The respect I have for Coach Saban and his family, I can’t describe enough about it,” David Cole said on WJOX’s “Opening Drive (via AL.com).” “I really don’t think he knew about what was trying to be presented to us.
“Communication was the biggest problem and when Riley asked them to give an answer, they wouldn’t give him a straight answer,” David Cole continued. “We got the impression they were wanting to wait until after National Signing Day, see who they got, and then let Riley know if they wanted to grayshirt him.”
Cole will reportedly make his final decision on signing day Wednesday.