Release: July 11, 2013
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Tide is high for Montel McBride
When offseason camps started up this past February, Montel McBride was an unknown commodity.
Things had started to change for the Plant City offensive tackle. He had won MVP honors at a camp in Valdosta, Ga. He suffered a setback in early April with a minor injury at an NUC event in Kissimmee, Fla., but two weeks later he was back at it again.
He won the offensive line MVP at a Nike event in Orlando, and that's when people stopped saying, "Who is Montel McBride?"
Camp MVP honors tend to do that for people, and when you are 6-foot-4, 340 pounds and can move like a running back, people start to take notice.
Everyone wanted to interview the charismatic two-way lineman. Colleges wanted to offer scholarships.
Last week while at Nike's The Opening in Beaverton, Ore., he committed to two-time defending national champion Alabama. He still can't believe it.
"It feels so good I'm beyond happy, beyond ecstatic and just ... I'm happy, happy that I did it and for now I'm just going to enjoy it," he said Monday from Plant City, finally back from his whirlwind trip to Oregon. "Even though I know I have to get on my grind at school and take care of things at home, I'm just enjoying it right now. The whole thing ... it's just a mind-boggling thing."
He's been recruited as mostly an offensive lineman at the college level, but he plays the defensive line with equal ability.
"The truth of the matter is that as long I'm smashing somebody every play, I'm good, no matter what side of the ball I'm on," he said. "I think I'm playing better as an offensive lineman right now because my form and technique have gotten better
"I do know though that Coach Rumph [Chris Rumph, Alabama defensive line coach] said that if things don't work out with Coach Cristobal (Mario Cristobal, offensive line coach), 'You can come play with me on the defensive line.' ... I don't have a problem with that at all."
A great lineman with an even greater personality, McBride has always been very approachable off the field and unbeatable on it. His offer from Alabama came rolling in toward the end of spring ball, and by the time he committed last week, he had 15 offers.
"Alabama, it's always been like my dream school and when I finally did get that offer my reaction ... I was waiting till got off the phone to go crazy," McBride said. "I call myself the character. When it comes to expressing my feelings I'll bounce around and go crazy a little bit, but then the next thing you know I'm calm and it's like nothing happened."
He said there will be no concern of him slacking off during his senior year like so many other high profile recruits have done in the past once they made their college choices.
"Oh God no ... this is football and I don't play about that. I take this stuff serious," McBride said. "My thing is that this is my senior year, my last year of guaranteed football. It's been a long ride and I'm going to enjoy it but I have to focus on now, so then later on everything will be that much more enjoyable."
Once he decided to commit to the Crimson Tide he was going crazy trying to find an Alabama coach who would pick up the phone. He committed on Tuesday afternoon, two days before the Fourth of July holiday, when many coaches were already making plans for the extended layoff.
"Oh you have no idea," McBride said. "I was calling all the coaches I had numbers for and nobody was picking up. It was a long, dragged out process. I had decided I was ready and just waiting for them to pick up the phone. I was like, 'All right guys pick up the phone.' I think I called both coaches [Cristobal and Rumph] at least seven times each.
"I finally got a message from one coach who said he was sorry that he was out for the evening with his wife, but he gave me a number to call and I finally got ahold of Coach Cristobal. He said, "Are you ready to be a part of the most dominant linemen in the United States?' and I said, 'Yes sir.' "
He's not sure when his commitment to Alabama will actually feel like a reality. He said for now it's still somewhat "surreal."
"It's hard to wrap my head around that," he said. "It's hard not to just overthink it all and wonder what if I don't do this or what if I do this? ... I'm just very, very excited and happy and just ready to go."
He's hoping to take his first visit to Tuscaloosa at the end of next week.
"Maybe when I finally get on campus everything will feel more real, but who knows," McBride said. "I just want to enjoy everything while I can."
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