MUSCLE SHOALS — Dee Liner ended the speculation about his college choice this morning, announcing his commitment to Alabama at an ESPN-televised ceremony before family, friends, teammates, classmates and coaches in the Muscle Shoals auditorium.
Rated one of the top defensive linemen in the country, Liner was long considered to be leaning toward Alabama since decommitting from Auburn in January.
Liner had verbally committed to Auburn before his senior season but backed out after Gene Chizik was fired as the Tigers' head coach.
"I wanted to go to a school that competes for championships each year at the highest level," Liner said, "but I also wanted to go to a place where I wold be pushed to be the best person I could be and reach my full potential both athletically and academically."
Liner was selected to the Under Armour All-America Game and USA TODAY's All-USA team after totaling 72 tackles, 23 sacks and an interception as a senior.
He is rated by Rivals as a four-star prospect, the No. 7 strongside defensive end in the country and the No. 3 overall prospect in the state. Scout rates him as a four-star prospect and the No. 8 defensive tackle nationally.
Liner said his final five came down to Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, LSU and Ole Miss.
"Since the (Auburn) coaches had got fired, it just really made me think about it," Liner said. "They did not leave one coach from that old coaching staff, and they just really made me change my mind. The next staff I was closest to, that was Alabama."
When asked what he would have done if if any of the assistants on Chizik's staff had stayed at Auburn, Liner's response was telling.
"I probably would have still went to Auburn," Liner said. "I had a good relationship with Trooper Taylor and my D-line coach, coach (Mike) Pelton. Of course, he's at Georgia Tech now. I just wish they would have kept some of those guys and it might have turned out different."
Liner and Muscle Shoals coach Scott Basden both cited the persistence of Alabama recruiting coordinator Mike Groh as a reason for Liner choosing the Crimson Tide. "Coach Groh, he had been there a lot for me," Liner said. "We probably talked almost every day. Just giving me good things to think about."
Bryan App can be reached at email@example.com.
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