Five-star recruit Landon Collins (Geismar, La./Dutchtown) chose Alabama over LSU during Thursday's Under Armour All-America Game.
"I actually made the decision two years ago," said Collins, the top-rated recruit from Louisiana and the No. 7 player overall in the ESPNU 150. "But I also knew that I had to make sure."
The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Collins is the nation's top safety prospect and lives just down the road from Tiger Stadium, but he said he felt more at home with the Crimson Tide.
"That's been the thing for me and what I have always said. I felt so much at home at Alabama," he said. "I have so much trust in those coaches and I get along so well with the players. That is why I ultimately picked Alabama."
Collins said it was still a difficult decision, especially considering how close he is with the LSU staff and players in Baton Rouge.
"It's been tough, and a lot of people have been on my back," Collins said. "People are always telling me about the schools and why I should go here and why I should go there. I just took into consideration what my family said, and we debated off of that. I did not listen to the outside people.
"Still, I got close with the LSU coaches, and telling them is going to be real tough."
It was apparently just as tough for Collins' family, as seconds after he committed to Alabama on the live telecast, his mother dropped her head. When asked what she thought about the decision, she didn't hide her true feelings.
"I feel as if LSU is the better place for him," she said. "LSU Tigers are No. 1."
Both the Tide and Tigers run a big-play defense with a history for turning college players into NFL draft picks. Yet Collins favors Nick Saban's track record when it comes to developing players.
"Both teams run great defenses," Collins said. "I fit both schemes, and their defenses are just the same. They roll their safeties down inside the box. Both teams play man with (LSU) playing a little more man.
"But playing for Coach Saban was very big for me. He's one of the best coaches. You can see that. He has first-round draft picks in the league. There is no doubt what kind of coach he is."
There will be big expectations for Collins, from both the coaches and himself.
"I want to go in there next year and learn everything I can," Collins said. "I will work hard, stay humble and stay strong. I hope to stay healthy. Down the line, I want to be an All-American. I want to be the best player I can be. I want to get a diploma. I want to just show out."
• Four-star athlete Cyrus Jones also announced he was committed to Alabama. Jones, the No. 33 overall player in the ESPNU 150, said coaches have told him he'll be a slot receiver like current Bama senior Marquis Maze. The 5-foot-10, 180-pound prospect will also factor in kick and punt returns.
• Channing Ward (Aberdeen, Miss./Aberdeen), the nation's No. 9 defensive end and the No. 72 overall player in the ESPNU 150, chose to attend Mississippi. Ward
is the brother of Ole Miss junior DT Taurus Ward. He is new Rebels coach Hugh Freeze's first major recruit.
• Four-star defensive back Chaz Elder (College Park, Ga./Banneker) committed to South Carolina in November and announced his decision Thursday night. South Carolina runs a 4-2-5, which means there is always an extra defensive back on the field. That certainly will help the nation's No. 7 DB get more playing time.
• Four-star safety Lucas Thompson (Winter Garden, Fla./West Orange), ranked No. 6 at his position in the ESPNU 150, chose East Carolina over Miami and South Carolina. Other offers for the 6-foot-1, 190-pound prospect included South Florida, Louisville, Rutgers, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Ole Miss and Illinois.
• Three-star tailback Wes Brown announced his commitment to Maryland. Brown, ranked 27th nationally at his position, said he feigned interest in several schools publicly but that his mind had long been made up.
Information from Dave Hooker and Corey Long contributed to this report.