When a highly touted North Carolina high school football star spurned national champion Alabama on Wednesday to sign with the University of California, it turned out there was a Buffalo connection. As in, the University at Buffalo.
Keenan Allen of Greensboro, N.C., backed out of his commitment to Alabama because coach Nick Saban declined to offer a scholarship to Allen's half-brother, quarterback Zach Maynard. Maynard was looking for a place to play after leaving the UB Bulls in late January in the wake of coach Turner Gill's departure for Kansas.
Allen, a Parade All-American and the nation's top-rated safety, insisted on a package deal that included Maynard. The Crimson Tide balked, but Cal did not.
“Best environment for me," Allen told TV reporters in Greensboro, N.C. "I like the players, the coaching staff. It seemed like they had everything laid out for me and my brother, so it's a family decision.”
Saban confirmed to the Tuscaloosa News on Wednesday that the Crimson Tide did not make an offer to Maynard.
“I think Keenan Allen's a fine young man and a great player,” Saban said. “We recruited him for a long time and we have a lot of respect for the family. I think somewhere along the line, around 10 days ago, the circumstances changed relative to his brother Zach getting a release and transferring, and the two of them wanting to go to school [together]. Then it becomes a matter as to whether we could take both guys or not, and I think the people that could obviously had a big advantage, and we were not in a position to do that because we were full.”
Maynard's former high school coach in Greensboro, Otis Yelverton, has been advising the brothers on their football decisions. Yelverton described to the Tuscaloosa paper the domino effect that started at UB.
“If Turner Gill doesn't leave Buffalo, we aren't having this conversation,” he said.