There's always at least one dramatic twist in National Signing Day caused by an undecided player. On Wednesday, that drama played out involving Alabama for the second straight year.
As reported by the Mobile Press-Register, Prichard (Ala.) Vigor High defensive lineman Darius Philon attended his school's signing day ceremony and put on an Alabama hat, signifying that he would join the Crimson Tide and honor a commitment he made to the program in September.
Yet, no sooner had Philon donned an Alabama cap than he sounded off a word of concern for the Roll Tide fans in the audience.
"I know everybody is looking forward to me going to Alabama," Philon told the audience in the video you can see below. "I just feel like I'm undecided right now."
In fact, Philon was so undecided that he didn't actually fax in his letter of intent as expected. Instead, he sat on the decision all day, then eventually signed his letter for Arkansas, where he will join teammate Jamichael Winston in playing for coach Bobby Petrino.
The situation bore a certain eerie similarity to the indecision of Cyrus Kouandijo on signing day 2011, when the offensive lineman committed to Auburn at a nationally televised press conference and then refused to fax in his letter of intent, eventually defecting for Alabama and his older brother days later.
In both Kouandijo and Philon's case the teenagers looked pretty miserable at their own signing day ceremonies, which was probably a good indication that some kind of a change was in the offing.
According to Vigor coach Kerry Stevenson, Philon's sudden defection was brought on by Alabama's late request for the defensive lineman to grayshirt a year (wait until January 2013 to enroll at the school). Because of new recruiting limitations in the SEC, Alabama did not have space for all of their recruits on the 2012 Crimson Tide roster, leading to at least two high-profile late departures; Philon and Atlanta (Ga.) Washington High running back Justin Taylor, who instead signed with Kentucky on Wednesday.
"He had the world snatched from up under him," Stevenson told the Press-Register of Philon. "I'm pretty sure he's wondering, 'Why me?' On a number of occasions, [Alabama] stated how much they don't want to lose him. They got put in a bind. I can see where it could happen, especially with this being the first year of the SEC putting in a stipulation like this."
At the end of the day, that stipulation landed Arkansas another talented player, one who may come back to haunt the Crimson Tide as soon as Sept. 15, when the Razorbacks host Alabama and Philon can show whether or not he really will be ready to step onto a collegiate field.
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