This week on the Bus, the Boys welcomed Isaiah Wilson, the Titans’ top draft pick in the 2019 draft. Wilson was a 5-star recruit out of New York City’s Poly Prep and a monster on Kirby Smart’s offensive line. At 6’6” and 354 pounds, his size and strength made him a lock for a high draft pick and he was taken 29th overall despite only being a redshirt sophomore and 20 years old at the time.
As one of the most highly touted linemen in recent memory (Rivals had him listed at .9904) and having been recruited by every major program in the country, Isaiah has a LOT of stories about the recruitment trail.
His final three came down to Michigan, Alabama, and Georgia, and he may have the greatest recruiting anecdotes of all time about both Nick Saban and Jim Harbaugh.
The key to Saban’s incredible success at ‘Bama is recruiting. Every year the man turns out a Top 5 class, and although it might seem he doesn’t miss, he whiffed BIG TIME in this case.
On the pod, Isaiah dropped this gem of an exchange:
“I was committed to Bama for a long time,” he said.
“What happened?” Taylor Lewan asked.
“Nick Saban didn't give me a hug.”
Oh. My. God.
“I care about the little things,” Isaiah elaborated. “I'm thinking in my head, I just committed, this is now my coach. You know what I mean?”
“Is it normal to get a hug?” a clearly stunned Taylor responded.
“I don't know, man,” Isaiah said with a laugh. “I just committed, I was hoping I could get one. I put my arms out and [inaudible] I was like dawg …”
Instead of a hug, Saban … extended his hand out for a HANDSHAKE.
Isaiah de-committed from ‘Bama in one flat second. Incredible. Because Nick Saban wouldn’t give him a hug.
Unbelievable. What a story.
Oh, and by the way, did Kirby Smart hug him?
“You better believe he did,” Isaiah said with a laugh.
Sometimes the difference between landing and losing a 5 Star is as simple as a hug.
Or, in Jim Harbaugh’s case, shoes.
Isaiah was recruited by every major school, but it came down to ‘Bama, Michigan, and Georgia. And for a long time, it seemed like Michigan and Jim Harbaugh had not just the lead, but a significant edge. 24/7 had him leaning 91% to be a Wolverine.
“We almost got you?” Taylor, the Michigan grad, asked.
“Harbaugh did something weird,” Isaiah replied. “He did something super weird.”
BUCKLE UP PEOPLE. WORLD CLASS HARBAUGH STORY INCOMING.
“What did he do?” Everyone on the Bus asked in unison.
“Remember when [Michigan] first got the deal with Jordan?” Isaiah began. ”[Harbaugh] just wouldn’t take off his cleats. He came to my in-home visit with cleats on his feet. And I have hardwood floors. And he’s just walking around with cleats bro. After that it was over.”
Harbaugh wore CLEATS ON A RECRUITING VISIT and then didn’t take them off on Momma Wilson’s HARDWOOD FLOORS.
This might be even more insane than Saban not giving Isaiah a hug.
Everybody in unison now: HARDDDDDOOOOOO!!!!
I mean, WHO DOES THAT? There are stories and then there are STORIES.
This recruiting talk (and there’s more of it, you’ve got to listen to the Pod to see him murder Kentucky) stands out to me is that recruiting is a people business. High profile athletes with options want to find a place to call home; they want a coach that cares about them, respects them, and treats them like a human and not an asset. Some athletes don’t have the luxury of canceling a school or a coach for a handshake instead of a hug or for cleats on the hardwood, but Isaiah could. He had 30 offers and was certain wherever he went, he was going to the league.
This just shows you, it’s the little things that can be make or break.
Bussin’ with the Boys this week is a must-listen; watch the full podcast below. You won’t regret it (unless you’re an Alabama or Michigan fan).