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Taylor, Philon Say No To Bama After Being Asked To Wait

One you knew about.  The other… maybe not.  But two players Alabama asked late in the process to wait a year chose to sign scholarship papers with SEC rivals yesterday, rather than put their careers on hold.

We’ll start with the more publicized case of running back Justin Taylor.  Alabama told the Georgia native a couple of weeks ago that he would need to wait until 2013 to sign with the Tide, rather than come onboard now.

After waffling on whether or not to wait for Bama or sign with another school, Taylor inked with Kentucky.  According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, his coach and guardian — former NFL running back Stanley Pritchett – is glad he did.

“We trusted the coaches at Kentucky.  We felt comfortable with them, and they promised to take care of Justin.  I think everything turned out well, ultimately.  I wanted him to go to college right now bcause when you’re the first person in your family to graduate from high school, you don’t need to be sitting out.  You never know what might happen in December or next year at Alabama…

If you look back on it, you see that it was a numbers game, that Alabama really wanted to sit out because of the numbers.  It kind of makes you mad, but you also feel good that he didn’t go there.  Because if he had gone to Alabama, he would’ve probably just have been another number.”

Taylor made it clear that he wasn’t fond of the way he was treated by UA, either.  “The way they talked to me, they respected me… but as far as pulling the scholarship, I think they did me wrong,” the teenager said.  “I was the #7 to commit, that’s all I’ve got to say.  I was committed to them for a year.  They could’ve handled it better.”

Meanwhile, another Crimson Tide commitment was dealing with similar issues back in Alabama.  Darius Philon had been committed to Bama since September.  After saying he was torn between Alabama and Arkansas, he chose to put on a UA cap during his high school’s signing day festivities yesterday. 

But by day’s end, the defensive lineman had signed with Arkansas.  So what gives?

According to The Birmingham News, two teammates claim Philon was asked last week to hold off on moving to Tuscaloosa for a year, like Taylor.  That’s when Arkansas entered the picture.

Kerry Stevenson — Philon’s high school coach — said his former star felt yesterday like “he had the world snatched from up under him… I’m pretty sure he’s wondering, ‘Why me?’”

Stevenson, however, defended Bama and blamed the situation on the SEC’s new soft 25-man signing cap.

“On a number of occasions, (Alabama) stated how much they don’t want to lose him.  They got put in a bind.  I can see where it could happen, especially with this being the first year of the SEC putting in a stipulation like this.”

Both players are recovering from injuries and that might be one reason the Tide coaching staff picked Taylor and Philon as candidates for waiting.  Of course, Kentucky and Arkansas weren’t bothered by those injuries.

Pritchett clearly doesn’t feel that Alabama did his player right.  He can say that being in Atlanta.  Whether Stevenson is happy with Philon’s situation or not — he never even visited Arkansas after committing to the Tide — it’s probably not wise for a high school coach in the state of Alabama to diss the homestate program.

Technically, Nick Saban and crew adhered to the letter of the law when it came to the SEC’s new signing cap.  They let the players know that they’d have to wait to sign on, even if they did let them know late in the game.

But did Bama act in the spirit of the SEC’s new plan?  For that answer, we’ll have to wait and see what reviews are offered up at the SEC’s spring meetings for the first-year cap and for Alabama’s adherence to it.

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