Alabama pushes hard to overturn UGA pledge
Ryqueze McElderry, a three-star offensive lineman from Anniston High School in Alabama, signed up for Georgia in late November. The Bulldogs proposed in June and recruited him for several months before the decision. McElderry set his commitment date with a top five that didn’t include the SEC team in Tuscaloosa.
The University of Alabama had not yet offered a scholarship when it scheduled the announcement. He was offered a few days later and visited Tuscaloosa that weekend (November 20). He announced his engagement with the Bulldogs 10 days later. McElderry said the SEC team’s early and intense pursuit in Athens played a part in his decision.
Alabama has stepped up recruiting efforts in hopes of turning the tide for the state’s player. He returned to Tuscaloosa with his mother, younger brother and girlfriend this past weekend.
“It was very good,” McElderry said of his visit to Alabama. “I spoke to Coach Saban, Coach O’Brien, Coach Marrone and Coach Roach. I really spoke to all the coaches. We ate food, spent some time with players and coaches. We took pictures. We talked about academics and how things work when you go to school.
“I really enjoyed everything about the visit. There isn’t one thing that stands out from the rest. Everything was great. Alabama suits me pretty well. I’m still a player in the state. I have grew up as an Alabama fan. My family loves Alabama. They are fine with me.
McElderry enjoyed his time with Nick Saban on the return visit to Tuscaloosa. Coach Saban also returned the favor by visiting Anniston High School this week. It’s something McElderry hasn’t seen from other head coaches this month.
“It was basically about the academic side of Alabama,” he said of the conversation with Coach Saban. “He just talked about going to school there. Coach Saban said he saw me a lot like Deonte Brown who played there a few years ago. It made me feel good because he was a very good player there.
“He told me I had good power and good footwork. He said they really needed good inside linemen. He said I could play left guard for them. The just hearing that from Coach Saban is really important It’s good to know that he believes in I know if I went to Alabama I could be a great player, I could be another version of Deonte Brown, but my way.
“Coach Saban came to our school on Monday. It was pretty good to see him there. It’s something different. He’s the only head coach who came to our school. Other coaches are past, but it’s just for the position or recruiting coaches. When Coach Saban arrived, it was just him. He didn’t come with anyone else. It was really cool to have in our school.”
Alabama signed McElderry teammate Antonio Kite in December. The 6-foot-4, 325-pound lineman said Kite recruits him daily to join him in Tuscaloosa. He was also impressed with the academic presentation. His conversations with the Tide coaching staff and the development of a strong bond with the Alabama offensive line coach.
“I love everything about Alabama,” McElderry said. “The academics really stood out for me, especially with their engineering program. I spoke to professors when I was there on Saturday. It really stuck with me.
“I had great conversations with Coach Saban and Coach Marrone. Those conversations and the talks with the teachers really stuck with me. My relationship with Coach Marrone is going pretty well so far. Our relationship has really improved over the past few months.
“It’s much better than before. I know that with him coming from the NFL, he had to get used to everything that happens in college. Our relationship is much better than it was. never been.”
McElderry remains committed to UGA, but Alabama is trying hard to keep him inside the state line.
“My commitment is pretty solid, but there were a few things that I saw a little different that I saw when I visited Alabama that I hadn’t seen while I was in Georgia that stood out to me,” said he declared. “I won’t say exactly what it is, but it really caught my attention. I’m still attached to Georgia, but I’m still considering Alabama.”
McElderry is considering a visit to Auburn this weekend after receiving an invitation from the Tigers to attend Junior Day. He has no other visits scheduled at this time.