Matt Elam Picks Kentucky Over Alabama
01/30/2014 11:03 AM
Defensive tackle Matt Elam announced he will play college football as a Kentucky Wildcat. The 6’6”, 380-pound senior from John Hardin High School in Elizabethtown chose UK over Alabama. Elam is a five-star recruit according to 247Sports.com and a four-star recruit according to ESPN. Huge steal for Mark Stoops in his second year as head coach to nab a recruit from Nick Saban.
Elam said he wanted to stay in state and help build up the Kentucky program. He was not all worried that he might be risking his pro career by turning down Alabama and all the national attention that comes with that.
“If you’re good, you’re good. The NFL scouts will see you wherever you play,” Elam said. “It’s hard to turn down Alabama, but I just feel like my heart is at the University of Kentucky.”
The most important thing for Elam was how comfortable he was with the program and the relationships he made with other players and coaches. In that regard, Kentucky had the biggest edge. Quarterback commit and Conner HS alum Drew Barker made Elam a priority to help recruit after he committed to Mark Stoops and the Wildcats.
Coach Stoops and Barker were two people Elam told his decision to before the announcement today, and the John Hardin HS senior played a joke on his future quarterback.
“I told Drew I’m going to Bama, and he said he would support me no matter what,” Elam said. “Then, I told him ‘nah, I’m joking. I’m going to UK.’
“I told Coach Stoops two days ago. He said, ‘I’ve been waiting too long, Matt.’ I asked him to wait two more days.”
Mark Stoops was a major factor in all this. Elam admitted he and Barker were not considering Kentucky when Joker Phillips staff was there, but Stoops has brought a culture change to the Wildcat program.
And what did Nick Saban tell Elam before the announcement?
“He said he would support me no matter where I go,” Elam said. “He’s a great coach, probably one of the best of all time, and I respect him.”
Kentucky and Alabama played last season, a 48-7 rout by Bama that UK no doubt wants to put behind them. Being in different divisions, the Wildcats will not face Alabama next year.
Even though Elam will not get a chance to match up the school he rejected, he said there are no hard feelings. “It’s a business decision.”