Brandon Hill is perhaps the top prep offensive line recruit in the country. Out of Hargrave (Va.) Military Academy, a prep school, Hill stands 6'6 and weighs somewhere north of 350 pounds. And he is headed to Alabama, whether he, or Ole Miss, like it or not.
In late November, Hill, a long-time Alabama commitment, dropped the Crimson Tide for Hugh Freeze's Ole Miss Rebels.
As it turns out though, Hill's commitment to Ole Miss was short lived, as he switched back to Alabama shortly after Christmas, giving the following reasons:
"I am going to report to Alabama in January," said Hill. "When it comes to college you know where you are supposed to be. I knew where I was supposed to be all along. I told them when I came down there for my official visit a few weeks ago that I am coming.
"They understood where I was coming from when I committed to Ole Miss. My mom wanted me to go to Ole Miss. She wanted me closer to home. I wanted to make her proud. She then told me this is my dream. I need to go where I want. She is happy for me. She talked to the coaches at Alabama. Everything is really good."
Hill's mom may have wanted him at Alabama, but even if she didn't, he was likely going to end up there anyway by virtue of signing a document in December that tied him to the Crimson Tide.
As it turns out, Hill signed an SEC financial aid agreement (with Alabama) that prohibits other SEC schools from continuing to recruit him. The move is unusual for a player in prep school, and is more commonly done by early-enrollees out of high school.
According to the Clarion Ledger, the agreement reads in part:
An SEC financial aid agreement differs from a university-specific agreement in that it requires other conference schools to stop recruiting the prospect. It reads: "recruiting activity by all SEC universities not included in this agreement shall cease upon the agreement being signed by the student and the student's parent or legal guardian."
After signing the agreement, Ole Miss was ordered by the SEC to stop recruiting the big tackle.
The Ledger cites a source claiming that Hill did not know what he was signing, and that Alabama pulled the move to lock Hill in, even though he was committed to Ole Miss at the time. Remember, Alabama had Hill sign the document in December, after he had flipped to Ole Miss in November.
The AJC spoke with an athletics administrator about the unusual move:
A compliance officer at one SEC school told the AJC that it was "very unusual" for postgraduates to sign the SEC financial aid agreement. They also gave credit to Alabama for thinking to do it.
The move is very unusual because JUCO/prep (non-high school) players typically sign only a school-specific financial agreement, and not the SEC financial agreement that Hill signed. There is no rule prohibiting a player from signing the document that Hill did, and no rule prohibiting the school from suggesting that a prep school prospect do so.
In this case, Alabama certainly knew what it was doing. And it deserves credit for carefully reading the SEC rules.
Whether Hill did is certainly debatable. The Ledger's source could be correct. Or, as is sometimes the case, perhaps Hill made up his mind to attend Alabama when he signed the form in December, but didn't tell Ole Miss so that he would avoid the barrage of phone calls and attempts by the Rebels to lure him back to Oxford.
Hill has already given his story, and it's highly unlikely that Alabama will comment on the matter.