October 23, 2011

McCrary leaves UA with Tide on top

Alabama has secured its quarterback in this year's recruiting class, but it's searching for an elite signal caller for the 2013 class, and one of the Crimson Tide's top targets was on campus this past weekend.

Ellenwood, Ga., quarterback Johnathan McCrary drove to Tuscaloosa on Saturday with his father and uncle for the Tennessee game. It was the first Alabama game he has attended this year.

"It was pretty good," McCrary said. "I've never seen a more comfortable environment than Alabama at any other schools I've been to. All of the coaches treat me with respect, the players and the fans, too. Everything was great."

Before the game, McCrary got a chance to talk with Alabama head coach Nick Saban and the rest of the UA coaching staff as well as Crimson Tide quarterbacks AJ McCarron and Phillip Sims.

"I got to talk to Coach Saban," McCrary said. "He said that he enjoyed me coming, and he hopes that I come back over the summer for the camp. I also spent some time with Coach (Chris) Rumph and Coach (Jim) McElwain. I got to hang out with most of the players. I got to hang out with Phillip Sims and AJ McCarron. That was pretty cool."

Even though the Crimson Tide started slow in the first half against the Vols, the atmosphere picked up as the game went on, and McCrary was impressed with how McCarron performed in Alabama's 37-6 win.

"The crowd was great," McCrary said. "It was a great environment. It felt like I was playing because I was enjoying it more than I thought I would.

"After the first drive when AJ McCarron threw that pick, I was trying to see if he could bounce back from it, which he did and led his team to a victory."

The Peach State star has already visited in-state schools Georgia and Georgia Tech, but after spending the weekend in Tuscaloosa, McCrary has Alabama at the top of his list.

"The school that's standing out to me the most right now is Alabama," he said. "They know to sacrifice their time. They know how to sacrifice time for me, and I can sacrifice time for them. That says a lot about their character and how they want players coming to school."

Although McCrary has Alabama as his leader, he's in no rush to make a decision. The junior quarterback wants to wait until this time next year before giving a verbal commitment.

Through eight games at Cedar Grove High School, McCrary is completing 75 percent of his passes and has thrown for more than 2,000 yards and 19 touchdowns. He's also rushed for seven touchdowns.

His teammate at Cedar Grove, offensive tackle Brandon Greene, has already committed to Alabama for the 2012 class and hasn't been shy about trying to get his quarterback to follow him to UA. The two hung out in Tuscaloosa over the weekend.

"(Brandon) just says he would appreciate if I came to Alabama," McCrary said. "He's not forcing me to come to Alabama. He just tells me to make a decision based on what I think is will be best for me."

McCrary is already planning on coming back to Alabama in a couple weeks when the Crimson Tide hosts LSU in what's being called the game of the year.

"I'm very excited about that game, actually," McCrary said. "I'm not sure about what's going to happen in that game. I just want to go, enjoy it and see what happens."

Reach Greg Ostendorf at greg@tidesports.com.

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