TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- They don’t hand out awards at Alabama’s prospect camp, but every summer there’s a recruit or two who comes to camp and puts on a show. It didn’t take long for the Crimson Tide to find that guy this year.
It was clear after the first full day of workouts that defensive tackle Matt Elam (Elizabethtown, Ky./John Hardin) would be one of the top performers at this week’s camp. UA assistant coaches Kirby Smart and Lance Thompson went as far as to say he was the best defensive line prospect Alabama’s had at camp in the past few years.
“It went really well,” Elam said. “The one-on-one drills, I just dominated in. The agility drills, it was fun to do that, and just seeing what it takes to be in that upper level. It opened up my eyes to see what I can do and what I can do against better competition than what I’m playing at now.”
Even offensive line coach Mario Cristobal complimented the 6-foot-6, 350-pound nose tackle prospect when he beat all of the top offensive linemen in the 1-on-1 drills.
“That was a big deal to Matt yesterday to have the opportunity to face off against some of the other three-and four-star recruits there and see where you stack up athletically and see what you have to do to get to that next level,” John Hardin head coach Chad Lewis said. “I think he got a little taste of what it’s going to be like when he gets to college.”
After the workout, Elam and his coach sat down with Alabama head coach Nick Saban. It was the first time the two had talked in person since the junior day in February.
“We went in his office and we just talked about everything -- how it will fit me, how is school, what I can do there and what he can do for me,” Elam said. “It was nice talking to him about everything. It was better the second time meeting him because the first time felt very surreal. I just feel like I have a better relationship with him now.”
Last month, Saban told Elam that he was their top target at the nose tackle position for 2014. If there was any doubt to that, there’s not now. The UA head coach reiterated that point again on Monday after the camp and Elam believes it’s true despite what others say.
“They think he’s the perfect 3-4 nose man in their defense,” Lewis said. “What Saban and Coach Thompson said is he’s kind of a unique player because the nose men that they’ve had in the past have been more run-stoppers. Matt has the ability to rush the passer as well.”
On his way home, Elam admitted that he thought about committing to the Tide on his trip, but said he knew he had to wait. He plans to camp at Kentucky next week and wants to make his decision at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in January.