Barry Jackson

Saban given stiff-arm while UM pursues his targets

Alabama head coach Nick Saban is competing with UM and other schools for multiple top South Florida prospects.
Alabama head coach Nick Saban is competing with UM and other schools for multiple top South Florida prospects. AP

Alabama coach Nick Saban often gets what he wants.

But when Saban’s minions called Plantation American Heritage asking if he could land his helicopter on school grounds for a quick recruiting trip, Saban was given a firm no.

That’s according to coach Patrick Surtain, as relayed on the Joe Rose Show on WQAM.

Rose, sour on Saban after his two years with the Dolphins and his assurance that he was "not going to be the Alabama coach," has implored South Florida schools to refuse to allow Saban to park his helicopter on their grounds.

"[Saban] inquired but the old man told him no," Surtain said, referring to Plantation American Heritage’s top official. "That goes for Nick and any other coach. He shouldn’t be landing helicopters on anybody’s property."

Surtain, who recently guided Heritage to a state championship, gave Rose a quick update on four of his top senior prospects: uncommitted defensive end Andrew Chatfield; defensive tackle Nesta Silvera (a UM oral commitment) and two elite cornerbacks that UM, Alabama and others are pursuing – his son, Patrick Surtain Jr. and Tyson Campbell.

• Surtain on his son: "LSU is definitely in there along with a couple more schools. I don’t know [what he will do]. He hasn’t taken officials yet. I told him he has to be selfish. It has to be a situation where he feels good about the players."

Though Surtain visited with UM coaches last month, Miami is now a longshot to land him.

Surtain told SEC Country this week that “it’s very close” between LSU and Alabama. “It’s a close race between both those schools. Both schools are recruiting me hard. Both schools have great defensive backs coaches: Corey Raymond and Coach [Derrick] Ansley. Both have great coaching staffs. It’s hard a race between those two [schools].”

• Surtain on Campbell: "He’s down to Miami, Georgia and probably Alabama. He runs a 10.4 [in the 100]. A rare talent, a great tackler."

Here’s what Campbell told Rivals.com this week: “As of right now I don’t have any official visits scheduled but I plan on taking some next week so I should be trying to confirm some as the week goes on. Alabama and Georgia will get official visits. Clemson and Miami are recruiting me pretty hard too....

“It didn’t end too well for Miami this year but they had a good season overall. I think the future is bright for them. I talk to a couple players that and I know I get along with them pretty well.”

• Surtain on Silvera: "One of the most explosive guys I’ve seen at that size. Fleet a foot. He’s the total package. As a high school defensive tackle, he’s special. He’s 100 percent Miami."

• Surtain on Chatfield: "It will come down to Oklahoma, Florida, Miami and probably LSU."

Chatfield plans to visit UM later in January, and the Hurricanes want him. FSU offered him this week.

DECISION PENDING

Couple other quick notes:

• UM junior cornerback Michael Jackson announced Friday he’s returning for his senior season instead of turning pro. All of UM’s cornerbacks are scheduled to return except senior Dee Delaney.

• After spending the week with teammate Lawrence Cager in Baltimore, UM junior defensive tackles Richard McIntosh Jr. and Kendrick Norton are scheduled to meet with UM coach Mark Richt and defensive coordinator Manny Diaz on Saturday to discuss whether to turn pro or return for their senior seasons.

A decision is considered imminent. Nobody should be at all surprised if they turn pro, but UM has continued to hold out hope that they can persuade them to return.

• St. Thomas Aquinas defensive end Nik Bonitto, who was interested in UM but reportedly didn’t receive a scholarship offer, announced on Thursday that he signed with Oklahoma in December but had kept it secret.

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