Ragland now part of nation’s top recruiting class
Bob Jones linebacker Reggie Ragland knew he was going to sign scholarship papers to play with the University of Alabama on Wednesday, Feb. 1. He was just unsure when and where it would happen.
As signing day unfolded on talk radio, wall-to-wall television coverage, and the Internet, it became apparent Alabama was putting together the top-rated recruiting class in all of college football. Ragland knew the class was full and there were still some of the nations top recruits that could announce they wanted in. With that in mind, Ragland decided not to risk his place in the class and sent in his signed papers.
“The coaches down there at Alabama told me to go ahead and get that over with and signed in early and get a spot. I just wanted to get locked in,” said Ragland who hosted a ceremonial signing in the Bob Jones Audio Visual Room at noon.
As it turned out that was a good idea. Alabama led the nation with 13 of the 150 top rated recruits according to ESPNU. Ragland came in rated at 109 but he was number one in the minds of those who spoke at the ceremony including Bob Jones Head Football Coach Kevin Rose.
“All the kids that play football dream of playing football at Alabama or Auburn but the reality is very few actually get to do it,” Rose said. “In all my years of coaching, Reggie is the first player to sign to play for the University of Alabama. He is going to play for Nick Saban and a national championship football team at a very special place.”
Principal Robby Parker, who has been at the school for all four of Ragland’s years there, said the thing he is most proud of is that “there’s not a nicer kid in this school and nobody more loved by the teachers and other kids than Reggie Ragland.”
In addition to a roomful of cheering students also present were his mother Ann White and his father Reggie Ragland, Sr.
Ragland said one highlight of the recruiting process was the in-home visit by Alabama Coach Nick Saban and defensive backs coach Jeremy Pruitt who recruits North Alabama.
“They really didn’t talk about football,” Ragland said. “We talked to them about what it is going to be like to be a student athlete, what will be required of me, just things about life in general.”
“Coach Saban did promise me some things. That at the end of the day I would be a better man, a better student and Alabama would prepare me for life after college, to get a good job. Stuff the parents want to hear.”
“It was special for me to have my parents here today because if it weren’t for them I wouldn’t be in this situation I find my self today. The way my dad pushed me when I was younger I am thankful for that.”
Ragland recounted how he first found out he was going to be offered by Alabama.
“I was in class and got a call to go to Mr. Parker’s office. I thought I had done something wrong but when I got there they said Coach Saban wanted to talk to me on the phone.“
It was October 2010 and Ragland, then a junior, was having a breakout season on an undefeated Bob Jones football team that was loaded with future college players. He had been to games at Alabama on unofficial visits but so had scores of other high school players.
“I started talking to Coach Saban and all of a sudden he said that he wanted to offer me a scholarship to play football at the University of Alabama,” said Ragland recounting that day. “I was real excited because I always wanted to go there after I visited the first couple of times. Ever since then I just fell in love with Alabama.”
Two months later, in late Dec. 2010, Ragland made it public that he had been offered and committed to play at Alabama. He was the sixth commitment in the class of 2012.
Ragland already knew about was the passionate football fans that support the University of Alabama. He knew from his visits how the fans filled Bryant Denny Stadium.
“I already knew I was going to play in front of some good fans. The stadium seats 101,000 and I knew from my 10th grade year that I was going to play in front of some great people. I’m excited.”
Actually Bryant Denny Stadium has a seating capacity of 101,821, and is the second largest stadium in the SEC and is the fifth largest stadium in the United States.
Ragland once was convinced basketball was his future.
That happens to kids who are 6-foot-3 in the sixth grade as he was. But he stopped growing taller and now stands about 6-foot-4.
“I’ve been the same height since the sixth grade,” said Ragland. “I thought basketball was going to be my sport. I put all my time into basketball. I loved playing baseball but I stopped playing after I hurt my ankle.”
Football seemed to come easy for Ragland. As a freshman he was moved from wide receiver to running back and other positions at Bob Jones. As a sophomore he was All-State as a tight end. But he found his home at middle linebacker when Coach Kevin Rose moved him there permanently as a junior.
“Football is really my first love,” Ragland said in an interview one week before signing day.
He plans to report to Alabama with most of the other freshman football players on June 5, when summer school starts. He will work with Coach Scott Cochran, the Director of Strength and Conditioning who implements Coach Nick Saban’s offseason workout program. Cochran has been at Alabama since 2007.
“Because I am athletic, football does come easy for me but I got to get my upper body stronger,” Ragland said. “I got the lower body to play anywhere in the country. I just got to get my upper body to where it needs to be and I think Coach Cochran can get me there before the season starts.”
With the hoopla of signing day passed Ragland can concentrate on basketball for a while. He has a state championship ring from the 2009-2010 Bob Jones basketball team and is a key member of the current Bob Jones basketball team that was ranked #1 in the state of Alabama for most of the season. In 7 days the playoffs start in a quest for another state championship. He is averaging 15 points and 8 rebounds a game this season.