It's been no secret that Houston (Texas) North Shore linebacker Zach Whitley is a big fan of the SEC and so it wasn't a surprise on Friday when the news broke from VYPE Houston that he had ended his recruitment in favor of the Alabama Crimson Tide.
It was actually a decision that was made officially several days ago, but took some time to get out, perhaps because Whitley isn't the most accessible prospect around:
Interesting note on the Zach Whitley commitment. He gave his verbal pledge to Nick Saban over Skype on Wednesday.— Taylor Hamm (@TaylorHamm247) May 3, 2013
Whitley chose the Crimson Tide over the Aggies -- on his 247Sports page, his Crystall Ball predictions were split right down the middle between the two schools. He had last visited Tuscaloosa on April 20th for the Alabama spring game.
A consensus four-star prospect, the 6'2, 220-pound Whitley also held offers from Boise State, Florida, Houston, LSU, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, TCU, Texas, and USC prior to his decision. He's considered the second-best linebacker prospect in the state of Texas by the 247Sports Composite, ranking as the no. 14 player overall in the state. He's also the no. 88 player nationally and the no. 5 inside linebacker.
Unfortunately, it is difficult to assess Whitley because his film is extremely limited, especially for a top prospect who is now headed into his senior season.
He does have excellent size for the position with a frame that will eventually hold close to 240 pounds, which means that he could grow into an edge, rush type of player for Alabama in their 3-4 defense.
A hard-hitter whose physicality will play well in the SEC, Whitley only faces questions in regards to his sideline-to-sideline range, though he won't have to face as many spread offenses in the SEC as he would have in a league like the Big 12. His first steps are good and quick and his instincts are strong reading and reacting to plays, so he has the skillset required of an inside linebacker, even if he doesn't move like a smaller outside linebacker.
Whitley is now the sixth commit in the 2014 Alabama class, which now ranks 13th in the country in the 247Sports Composite, despite its small size.
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