High school coach takes issues with Alabama’s recruiting tactics

A Florida high school assistant coach is accusing the University of Alabama of tampering with one of his players and forcing him to transfer for his senior season.

According to the Pensacola News Journal, Washington (Pensacola, Fla.) High assistant coach George Schellang claims defensive tackle Darius Paige was encouraged by Alabama assistant coach Jeremy Pruitt to transfer to Foley (Ala.) High because the school might be able to help him with his grades.

"Darius came in the office one day during the summer after coach [Mike] Smith left and sat down and told me coach [Jeremy] Pruitt, who is the Alabama coach who was recruiting him, wanted him to go to Foley High School," Schellang told the Pensacola News Journal. "Basically, he said [Foley High] could take care of him academically.

"My reaction was shock and dismay that a Division I coach would tell a high school athlete that he needed to transfer, that they had people there to help."

Paige, a 6-3, 275-pound senior and the No. 38 player overall in the 2013 class by, was academically ineligible last spring. But Foley High allows students to make up eight academic credits as opposed to six at Washington.

However, for Paige to be eligible at Foley, he needs to meet the Alabama High School Athletic Association guidelines of a bona fide move. Those guidelines include:

• The household furniture of the family must be moved into an unoccupied house or apartment.
• All principal members of the family must reside in the new place of residence.
• The original residence should be closed, rented or disposed of and not used by the family.
• To stay eligible, the family must stay nine months at the new residence to make a move bona fide.

Foley coach Todd Watson, who used to coach with Pruitt at Hoover (Ala.) High, told USA Today that Foley plans to follow the guidelines.

"It will take some time," Watson told the paper. "First, he has to get enrolled in school here. Once that happens, we have to check on his academic and transfer eligibility status."

Meanwhile, Schellang said his athletic director has already reported what they believe has been improper recruitment to both the Alabama High School Athletic Association and the NCAA.

While this will definitely raise some eyebrows, a lot has to happen before Paige is even eligible at Foley and, considering he was ineligible last spring at Washington, he'll probably need to make some extra strides to maintain his eligibility and get through the NCAA Clearinghouse.

But for Schellang, he told the Pensacola News Journal his concern is Paige's welfare.

"My concern is the only one that will get hurt is going to be him," Schellang said. "He's a great kid and we love him. He's a very nice young man. In the end, I think he's going to be the one that gets hurt."

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