Alabama has been one of the hottest teams on the recruiting trail since May, and that momentum continued Sunday when ESPN 300 offensive lineman T.J. Ferguson, ranked No. 78 overall, committed to the Crimson Tide.
Ferguson is a 6-foot-4, 290-pound offensive lineman from Peach County High School in Fort Valley, Georgia, and is now the 11th ESPN 300 prospect to commit to Alabama since May.
His decision ultimately came down to Alabama, Florida State and Georgia, but Ferguson said a personal touch from coach Nick Saban is what put the Crimson Tide over the top.
"Coach Saban would schedule a Facetime or Zoom call once a week, just about every week since March or April," Ferguson said. "Just knowing that, it made me feel like a priority. Knowing the history there, I know it's a great program just like the other programs, so you're looking for something to stand out and that was one of them."
Initially, Ferguson was planning to take all five of his official visits, but the dead period created due to the coronavirus pandemic caused him to alter his plans. He and his family needed to find a way to get comfortable enough with a staff to make his decision, not knowing when the dead period would end.
The video calls from Saban proved to be worthwhile and helped the family gain that comfort level with the program and with the coaches. Prior to building the relationship with Saban, Ferguson wasn't sure what to expect from the head coach.
He had seen Saban's businesslike approach and had spoken to him before, but didn't know him on a truly personal level. Talking to him one-on-one gave Ferguson a chance to get to know a different side of Saban, which ultimately led to a commitment.
"I definitely see where most people see him as business, because I thought the same thing when I first met him," Ferguson said. "When you're thinking of Nick Saban, you're not thinking of personal, but just meeting him, though, and seeing he's just like us changed a lot. Things that go from academic tours, of course the football stuff, but it was a lot of talking about non-football stuff with me and my whole family."
Those video calls helped give Alabama four ESPN 300 offensive line commits in the class, and four ESPN 300 commitments in the past six days with twins Tommy and James Brockermeyer and linebacker Kendrick Blackshire.
Ferguson also gives the Crimson Tide nine commitments ranked within the top 150 of the ESPN 300.
Alabama now has 15 total commitments in the class, and with the Brockermeyers and Ferguson jumping on board, the Crimson Tide should see the class ranking move up even higher than the current spot at No. 13.