Fulton follows his heart, picks Bama

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Cornerback John Fulton (Manning, S.C./Manning) committed to Alabama on Saturday during the Under Armour All-America Game at Tropicana Field.

The 6-foot-1, 180-pounder picked the Crimson Tide ahead of South Carolina and Florida.

"It's a home away from home," Fulton said. "I love Alabama just like I love South Carolina. It's like I am never away from home when I am only seven hours away. I love [Tide head coach] Nick Saban, I love [Tide running backs coach and Fulton's recruiter] Burton Burns, I love [Tide defensive coordinator] Kirby Smart. I also love the environment there. They live for football."

Fulton went back and forth between Alabama and the Gamecocks during the process, and each school led at different times. Alabama was the early leader, then South Carolina jumped on top before the Crimson Tide retook the lead and ultimately landed Fulton.

"I took two visits to Alabama [unofficially]," he said. "The first time, I thought it may have been the first-visit shocks, but the second time, I felt the same way. I knew that it was right for me. Then I went to South Carolina again [for several unofficial visits] and there was just something about it. The coaches started talking to me about the depth chart and about how if I go in-state, then I am going to be a hero in my town and everything like that, so I just put South Carolina No. 1 because it started making sense.

"But then I went back to Alabama on my official [the weekend the Crimson Tide played the Gamecocks, a 20-6 win] and I thought that I am not going to live in South Carolina for the rest of my life anyway, and I am going to be a hero in my town regardless if I go to South Carolina or if I go to Alabama, and I love Alabama and it's like a home away from home when I go to Alabama, so I am going to follow my heart and go to Alabama."

Fulton added that his mother, Rosa, was sold on the Crimson Tide once she visited Tuscaloosa with Fulton. His father, John Sr., also has given his blessing on the decision.

"She actually wants me to go to Alabama," he said. "At first she really wanted me to stay at home, but after she visited there, she told me that she understood why I loved it so much and now she loves it, too."

Burns spent eight seasons recruiting the Palmetto State as an assistant at Clemson under Tommy Bowden before joining Saban's staff in Tuscaloosa.

"Some of my coaches were recruited by Coach Burns and they told me he was like a father figure to them," Fulton said. "If I am going to be far away, I am going to need a father figure in my life. I also got to know his wife really well during the process."

Fulton plans to head to Tuscaloosa later this month and enroll for the spring semester. He will participate in spring practice.

"The first practice, I am going to go against Julio Jones," Fulton said. "I am going to make sure that I go against Julio Jones and I am going to talk trash to him -- because that's just how I get down."

JC Shurburtt covers recruiting for ESPN.com. He can be reached at jcsespn@aol.com.