October 23, 2011

Ragland, Smith take in UT game

Ragland impressed with Hightower, Tide defense

University of Alabama commitment Reggie Ragland has been a frequent visitor for the Crimson Tide home games this year, and Saturday was no different as he was in town for the Tennessee game.

"The game went good for the most part," Ragland said. "They started off slow like they always do for some reason, but in the second half, they always pick it up. The defense is always going to hold up its end because Coach (Kirby) Smart has them prepared for the game."

The Rivals100 linebacker kept a close eye on the Crimson Tide's linebacking unit, the strength of this year's top-rated Alabama defense.

"Somebody that stood out a lot to me this week was Dont'a Hightower," Ragland said. "He was out there making plays. I like that. Courtney (Upshaw) did what Courtney always does. He got to the quarterback and made them rush the throw."

Ragland has played the role of recruiter since he committed to Alabama last December, and on Saturday, he talked with Rivals.com four-star prospects Barry Sanders Jr. and Cyrus Jones about the possibility of joining the Crimson Tide.

"They said they were loving Alabama, like the fans and all that," Ragland said. "I talked to Barry. We had talked once before, and he wanted to see how I was doing. We talked about a couple guys. I think he's really going to consider Alabama."

The in-state star also caught up with fellow commitments Ryan Anderson, Brandon Greene, Tyler Hayes and Geno Smith at the game.

On Friday, UA assistant coach Sal Sunseri went to watch Ragland as Bob Jones High School defeated Decatur, 17-3. The Patriots' linebacker had one of his better games, and it didn't go unnoticed.

"Coach Sal came up to my game this past Friday," Ragland said. "When I was down there, they were talking about how I played, and that Coach Sal was really impressed. He said I was using my hands a whole lot more, and for the most part, I was unblockable out there."

Ragland has been to almost every Alabama home game but hasn't really had to pay much attention to the games because of the dominant performances from the Crimson Tide. That may not be the case in two weeks when LSU comes to town.

"I'm very excited about that game because the fans are going to be excited and the atmosphere is going to be really crazy," Ragland said. "I'm going to be really into it. It's No. 1 vs. No. 2, and both of them are undefeated. I'm turning my phone off and everything."

Smith enjoys first UA game this year

By Bobby Atkinson
Special to TideSports.com

Rivals100 prospect and Alabama commitment Geno Smith made his first visit to Tuscaloosa this fall to see the Crimson Tide take down rival Tennessee.

"I had a really good time," Smith said. "I got to talk with the coaches and a lot of the other committed guys so it was great."

The Atlanta cornerback spoke with UA head coach Nick Saban before the game, who seemed excited about the impact Smith and the rest of this year's recruiting class will have.

"(Coach) Saban talked about this year's team, but he also talked about next year," Smith said. "He said to keep working hard in school, and to just keep getting better. He said next year we'll be alright."

On his visit, Smith crossed paths with Barry Sanders Jr. and Cyrus Jones, two of Alabama's top uncommitted targets who were both in town over the weekend.

Smith said he wasn't able to talk to Jones very long because he was in the middle of a tour for his official visit, but the Crimson Tide commitment did speak to Rivals.com four-star running back Barry Sanders Jr. for a while.

"He was just talking about what all schools he is looking at, talking about taking an official here," Smith said. "We are trying to recruit him. I'm not sure how he feels, but they took the time out to come all the way out from Oklahoma, so I feel like Alabama's in pretty good shape with him."

With the win over Tennessee, Alabama is set for its showdown with LSU in a two weeks, and Smith is excited to come back for the game. He spoke with Saban about the match-up against his former team.

"I got a chance to talk to Coach Saban about that game, and he said that it was going to be insane, and that there's going to be so many people coming to the game," Smith said. "It'll be a big weekend."

On Friday, Smith scored three touchdowns to help lead St. Pius X to a win over Grady High School and keep the Golden Lions undefeated on the year.

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