A few days after Hunter Osborne chose Alabama, he and his parents went to Sunday mass. During the service, a devotee wanted to honor the four-star defensive line prospect with a few gifts. They happened to be leadership books framed around Crimson Tide football. Then, when the Osbornes sat in the parking lot, their pastor drove by and honked his horn. The sound? The roar of an elephant.
“Are these signs enough for you? Osborne asked his mother, who had questions about the engagement. He was joking, but for Patricia, she had seen enough.
The Hewitt-Trussville community and Alabama football in its college fandom were really all Osborne had been exposed to prior to his recruitment. More than 50 offers later, Osborne’s parents wanted him to expand his reach and not feel pressured to stay home. An ACC program nearly fired him, but using the three pillars he and his parents agreed he would base his choice on – education, development, relationships – Hunter realized his future home n It was only about an hour away.
More Alabama Football Recruiting: 4-star Hunter Osborne joins Alabama football class of 2023
“I bet on myself,” Osborne wrote in a 3 a.m. post the night he settled on the Crimson Tide. The next morning, he went to Patricia’s home office and sent her the note. He told her to wait to open the text until he left the room. Tears came as Patricia marched.
“I grew up as a Bama fan, I know I don’t consider this a fan. This is the first time I have to make a man decision,” Osborne wrote.
His parents, coaches and head coach Josh Floyd all agreed: Osborne is an easy kid to work with. He set and achieved goals like the school’s honor roll. On the field in his freshman year, an undersized and lanky Osborne realized he needed to beef up for the defensive line. He sat his parents down and told them why basketball conditioning was stopping him from adding muscle. They weren’t opposed, but his father, Carl Osborne, said his son had “sold” the idea to them.
Osborne began a heavy diet of chicken and chocolate shakes. The latter is “banned” in the house now that Osborne is carrying his 6-foot-4, 270-pound frame as well as a four-star prospect. He began working with several trainers, including Birmingham-based Xtreme Fitness and Performance and GrindLab. They told them to travel the country, attend camps and meet players from every potential school.
“(He) got in front of them,” said Douglas Laister, his defensive line coach at GrindLab. “…(The schools) realized he was serious about it. I think that’s what made Alabama more difficult.
Carl enjoyed exploring campuses with his son. He had spent the past 16 years working as a fabricator at Lincoln, and the pandemic allowed him to be more at home with Osborne and his younger sister. Carl tried to make sure his personal fandom stayed home. They went to Tennessee, Texas and Clemson and leaving them, Carl felt like this could be it.
National On3 writer Chad Simmons reported that Clemson was in the lead in early June. After an official visit, Osborne felt compelled to tell Tigers coaches that he would join them as two other Yellowhammer State rookies did in Briarwood Christian’s Christopher Vizzina and Thompson’s Peter Woods. But Osborne kept thinking and eventually started typing on his phone.
Recapping his journey through the Hewitt-Trussville gymnasium on Monday night at his commitment ceremony, Osborne said that in the end, Alabama was the “perfect piece of the puzzle.” He held back tears and grew emotional as he thanked his mother, whom he called his best friend. She didn’t want him to get lost in the sea of four and five stars, but realizes he’s filling a need with the Crimson Tide. (Osborne is the second defensive line prospect in the Class of 2023.) The family is already guessing who will cry more on move-in day, Osborne or his mom. But they will both find comfort in the fact that he will be close enough.
RELATED: Alabama Depth Map Projection Entering Fall Camp
Inside Nick Saban’s recruitment plan that built a dynasty
Nick Alvarez is a reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @nick_a_alvarez or email him at [email protected].