July 25, 2011

O'Brien favors Tide after visit

It has been a busy summer for Danny O'Brien, but the defensive tackle from Flint, Mich., found time last week to make a trip down south to visit the University of Alabama. For O'Brien, it was his first time in Tuscaloosa.

"I got to tour all of the facilities and stuff because I haven't seen anything before," O'Brien said. "It really filled me in on what Alabama's about. I got to see pretty much everything about the school, the academic building, where I'd be staying and of course, I got to meet with Coach (Nick) Saban, which was great.

"We talked about everything. He knew it was my first time down there, so he knew I was kind of clueless about the school, but he shared a lot of stats with me and things about the program that really stood out to me."

Just from spending the day on campus and his meeting with Saban, O'Brien got a feel for how the UA head coach conducts the Crimson Tide program and what he expects from his players.

"The way Coach Saban runs that program, he runs it like a Fortune 500 business," O'Brien said. "He's a very stern man. Everybody has respect for him, and you really have to. I had a great meeting with him. He filled me in on Alabama, and then I learned a lot when I was walking around the campus."

During the visit, O'Brien said that Saban told the 6-foot-3, 305-pound defensive lineman that he wants him in the middle of the defense at the nose guard position.

"Coach Saban said he'd put me right in the middle, right in the meat," O'Brien said. "That's what I want. I love being in the trenches."

As a junior at Powers Catholic High School, the Rivals.com four-star made close to 90 tackles, including 10 sacks, clogging the middle of the Chargers' 4-2-5 defense. What makes him so difficult to contain?

"Getting off the ball, I think is the biggest thing, that and intensity," O'Brien said. "All of the writers talk about the intensity level that I bring to the game. I'm here to hit, and that's the way I play."

O'Brien plans to narrow his list of schools down this week and indicated that Alabama will definitely make the cut. In addition to his recent trip to UA, he has also visited Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State and Tennessee this summer.

While some may believe that the Michigan native wants to stay closer to home, O'Brien says that distance is not a factor. In fact, he may prefer to play in the Southeastern Conference when it's all said and done.

"The football down there is wild, and I love everything about that in the SEC," O'Brien said. "Michigan has a lot of fans that go to there game, but they're not as loud. They're more like conservative fans sometimes."

The biggest thing for O'Brien is finding where he feels most comfortable at, and he said the comfort level was there at Alabama despite how far away it is.

"I could definitely be comfortable there," he said. "As long as the place feels like home wherever I go, I'd be fine. Talking to a couple of the players, they told me they never got homesick. Mark (Ingram) is from the same area that I am."

Reach Greg Ostendorf at [email protected]

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