Turns out the rumor mill and the message boards were right this time. Five-star football prospect Keenan Allen, an elite safety who had verbally committed to Alabama in November, said this morning that he'll attend the University of California at Berkley instead. In the week leading up to National Signing Day, word began to get out that Allen was considering Clemson. Last weekend, he reportedly visited California with his half-brother, quarterback Zach Maynard, who decided to transfer from the University of Buffalo when head coach Turner Gill took the job as head coach at Kansas.. Penn State was even being mentioned as a possible destination for Allen, the nation's top-rated safety according to recruiting analysts for Scout.com and Rivals.com.
"If Turner Gill doesn't leave Buffalo we aren't having this conversation," said Otis Yelverton, who aided Allen during the recruiting process. Yelverton said Wednesday that he has received death threats from Alabama football fans. Allen's mother, Doria Lang, was asked if the family plans to move to California now. "I don't know that yet," she said. Lang and Yelverton had a Tuscaloosa News correspondent removed from the restaurant where the signing ceremony was held after the question about the family moving was asked.
Where does this development leave Alabama? Without the 6-foot-2, 194-pound Allen, the national champions slipped to No. 4 in the latest 2010 recruiting class rankings of both Scout.com and Rivals.com going into signing day. In fact, the latter service inserted archrival Auburn's haul at third overall.
"That'll probably cause the (message) boards to explode," Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Barry Every said before Allen's announcement at a downtown restaurant in Greensboro.
Every, however, said the Crimson Tide should be fine despite the late setback.
"They're pretty stacked at safety, to be honest," he said. In this year's recruiting class alone, Alabama is bringing in two four-star safeties, in-state prospects Jarrick Williams and Nick Perry. The Tide also snagged five-star cornerback DeMarcus Milliner, who at about 6-2 has a 50-50 chance of moving to free safety, according to Every. Neither Every nor Scout.com analyst Chad Simmons could see Alabama head coach Nick Saban going so far as to offer Allen's half-brother a scholarship just to lure the higher-rated player. It's not clear yet how big a factor that relationship was in Allen's decision. Simmons said he wasn't sure the Alabama coaching staff would "reach" for another prospect just to fill Allen's scholarship spot. "Bama's going to be satisfied with their class even if they land nobody else," Simmons said.