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Recruit’s mom miffed over Saban’s focus on NFL over academics

If you recall from back in early January, the mother of five-star recruit Landon Collins was not pleased with her son’s televised announcement during the Under Armour All-America Game that he would be attending Alabama over her choice of schools.

I feel LSU is the better place for him to be,” a visibly perturbed April Justin, Collins’ mother, said Jan. 5 during the broadcast. “LSU Tigers No. 1. Go Tigers.”

Aside from the fact that the family is from around New Orleans and she wanted the top-rated player in the state of Louisiana to stay closer to home, there was, as it turns out, another reason for the mom’s distaste toward her son’s selection of the Tide.

In an interview with ESPN the Magazine, Justin explained that an in-home visit conducted by Tide head coach Nick Saban last June was something she couldn’t shake. Specifically, Justin was put off by the coach going with his “I can get your son into the NFL” pitch:

Landon included his mom when it came time to finalize his decision. That’s how, with Collins leaning toward Alabama this fall, Saban came to visit Justin. She says the coach offended her during his stay by promising that her son would be a high NFL draft pick and receive a multimillion-dollar contract. “I think he stereotyped me,” Justin says. In her mind, Saban had told her what he thought she wanted to hear, when her real concerns were about academics and how a program would take care of her son.

Saban’s visit left a permanent mark in her mind. After Collins arrived in Orlando for the week of practices before the Under Armour Game, he called his mom to make it clear that he would likely choose Alabama and that he had reached this decision on his own. Justin responded with a text that said she couldn’t support his choice and wasn’t going to come to the game. Collins texted back about how he loved her and that she wasn’t that kind of mom -- that’s why he knew she would come. She arrived the afternoon of the game.

It should be noted that, of the 12 schools which make up the SEC, Alabama’s 69 percent was the fourth-highest Graduation Success Rate according to the latest NCAA findings. LSU, incidentally, was No. 2 (77%), well behind Vanderbilt (86%) and just ahead of Florida (76%) in the conference.

If you read the entire piece, however, it appears that Justin’s dislike of her son’s decision has less to do with Saban “stereotyping” her during an in-home visit and more to do with a mother coming to grips with her “baby” leaving home. Or, as Collins put it, “mom issues”.

Despite his mom’s well-known reservations, Collins hasn’t been swayed. The Tide has been his choice since the fall of 2010 -- “I just felt the love when I got there. I stepped on the field and it just felt ... big” -- and, come signing day next Wednesday, Collins still intends to put his Herbie Hancock on a National Letter of Intent and head to Tuscaloosa to begin carving out his own football future.

And, despite those very public reservations, we’re guessing mom will be along for the journey every step of the way.