Alabama football: Another top quarterback prospect opts against Crimson Tide

Special to the Ledger-EnquirerAugust 4, 2011 

Present and future, it’s all about the quarterbacks for the Alabama football team.

Days before AJ McCarron and Phillip Sims resume their competition for the starting job, another top passing recruit made a college decision.

And for the second time in as many weeks, a big name opted against the Crimson Tide.

Hueytown’s Jameis Winston committed to Florida State instead of Alabama on Wednesday afternoon. Ranked among the top three at his position nationally by the top three recruiting services, Winston joined Gunner Kiel as a top quarterback who chose another destination after identifying Alabama as a finalist. Kiel, the consensus top passer for the Class of 2012 from Columbus, Ind., committed to Indiana on July 27.

Winston’s announcement came with considerably more fanfare than Kiel’s quiet commitment.

A live ESPNU audience witnessed Winston reach for the Seminole cap.

He said Florida State just felt “more comfortable,” in the end.

A sheepish Winston was then asked by the television anchor how the locals would react to his decision.

“Uh, Alabama fans are probably going to hate me,” Winston said after a pause and a nervous tug on his cap. “But, my job is not to please the fans and the people in general. I’m just focused on leading my high school team to a state championship.”

Then there’s the issue of Winston’s baseball future.

He’s considered a potential first or second round prospect for next spring’s Major League Baseball draft so there’s a chance Winston won’t appear on any college campus a year from now.

Winston, just like the other high school senior recruits, is not bound to college decisions until the signing period opens in February.

The recruiting services list Alabama with 14 commitments for the Class of 2012, but without a quarterback. Of the top 15 quarterbacks in the Scout.com rankings, 12 have committed. Each of the top three remaining list Alabama among the schools in consideration including Anthony Alford.

The Petal, Miss., product is ranked second behind Winston on the dual-threat quarterback rankings on Rivals.com, and the fourth overall quarterback by 247sports.com.

A year ago, Alabama’s only quarterback signee Phillip Ely was ranked 20th at his position by Rivals and 41st by Scout.com. He enrolled in January and sits behind McCarron and Sims on the unofficial depth chart.

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