January 13, 2012

UA commits react to Sunseri's move

Sal Sunseri's move to Tennessee will affect the University of Alabama not only on the field, but also on the recruiting trail. The UA assistant coach was considered one of the Crimson Tide's top recruiters.

The linebackers coach focused most of his recruiting attention on the East Coast, but he had also developed great relationships with some of the in-state commitments, including linebacker Reggie Ragland.

"My relationship with him was probably the best out of all the coaches," Ragland said. "I talked to him at least two or three times a week, and we always talked about other stuff and stuff I needed to do. For the most part, we had a pretty tight relationship.

"I was kind of sad, but I knew this was a business decision for him, so I understand what he did. I'm happy for him and whatever he does at Tennessee."

Sunseri reached out to the Rivals100 linebacker today to break the news of his departure.

"He said he was sorry for not telling me, but he said it was a business decision for him and his family," Ragland said. "I understand that you have to make money for your family. You have to do what you have to do."

UA assistant coach Jeremy Pruitt visited with Ragland at his school today to make sure his commitment to Alabama was still solid. Ragland said that he still wants to be a part of the Crimson Tide's 2012 class even with Sunseri leaving.

"People think that I'm going to visit Tennessee, but I'm not just going to leave because of coach Sal," Ragland said. "I'm not going to leave because of that. Home will treat you better than if you go somewhere else, so I'm going to stay home.

"I'm still solid to Alabama because I know I'm still going to get coached real good by coach (Kirby) Smart and coach Pruitt, so I'm going to stay home."

Linebacker Denzel Devall, another Alabama commitment, wasn't as close with Sunseri, but he said he wasn't surprised when he found out the former UA coach was going to Tennessee to become the defensive coordinator.

"I just met him going to camp," Devall said. "That was it. He's a great coach, so it wasn't going to surprise me or anything."

Devall said the main reason he chose Alabama was head coach Nick Saban, not Sunseri, so his commitment is also still 100 percent to the Crimson Tide.

"I just like coach Saban," Devall said. "He coaches the defense everywhere, and he's who I want to be a part of."

Sunseri served as the main recruiter for UA commitment Cyrus Jones, a Baltimore native, and five-star defensive tackle Eddie Goldman, who hails from Washington, D.C. Goldman remains undecided.

Reach Greg Ostendorf at [email protected]

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