SEC teams battle for ATH Greg Taboada

Although he is trying his best to focus on his final high school football season, ESPN 150 athlete Greg Taboada (Atlanta/Marist) admits his recruitment is lingering in the back of his mind. The 6-foot-4, 235-pound senior, who plays tight end and defensive end, had just spoken to several coaches from a program making a big push for his commitment.

“I was one the phone with the Vanderbilt offensive staff 30 minutes ago,” Taboada said. “In the past month they have made me feel really important to their class. They need a tight end to spread the field and they seem really excited about the possibility of adding me to the great group of talent they have already committed this year. They are going in the right direction, and they just need to continue to add the kind of depth they have lacked before. I think they will get to that point in the next year or two.”

The Commodores have made Taboada, the No. 110 prospect in the country, a priority, and that has them in a position rarely seen in recruiting: running neck and neck with the defending BCS champions.

“Vanderbilt is definitely right there with Alabama as my No. 1 and No. 2,” Taboada said. “FSU and Virginia are right behind them, and I just need to take visits to those schools to find out what they are like.”

The Crimson Tide head coach recently spoke to Taboada about how he would fit in, were he to play in Tuscaloosa.

“When I talked to Coach [Nick] Saban a week or two ago, he said they needed a tight end like Brad Smelley last year," Taboada said. "He was an H-back that could go out for passes and spread the defense as well as a blocker for them. He said they have a walk-on senior playing there now, so they have spots open.”

Alabama already has commitments from two other ESPN 150 tight ends, O.J. Howard (Prattville, Ala./Autauga Academy) and Josh McNeil (Durham, N.C./Milford Academy), but that has not affected how Taboada feels about Alabama.

“I know they have two tight ends committed right now, but I do not really follow recruiting too much,” Taboada said. “When I went there on a visit they were showing me some film and they usually had two tight ends on the field, and sometimes three. Maybe someone gets hurt, maybe someone switches positions, and maybe I beat them out. For me, it is not a factor.”

Some feel Taboada, listed as an athlete, could end up on defense at the next level. That is not the plan right now, but he said he would be open to it if he were asked.

“As of now, Alabama likes me as a tight end,” he said. “If they see me and think I am quick enough to play outside linebacker or can put on some weight and play defensive end, I would also be perfectly fine with that.”

He is ready to choose from among the offers already on the board, but Taboada feels two other programs are still evaluating him.

“Stanford wants me to come out at the end of the month and to take an official in December, so I guess they have interest, but still not sure where they stand as far as an offer,” Taboada said. “I know Georgia is filling up, but maybe as the season goes on they see something or a spot opens up.”

Taboada has not sat down with his parents yet to set his official visits, but hopes to take them after his football season is over. He plans to take an unofficial visit to Alabama on Sept. 29 for the game against Ole Miss.