May 4, 2011

Pipkins has Tide among favorites

It's not easy to find a player big enough to play nose tackle for the University of Alabama, but at 6-foot-3, 320 pounds, Ondre "Pee-Wee" Pipkins looks like an ideal fit for the position.

Pipkins, a 2012 prospect from Kansas City, Mo., received a phone call Monday from Crimson Tide head coach Nick Saban, who offered him a scholarship to play at Alabama.

"It was just a good feeling," Pipkins said. "I kind of had a feeling that they were going to offer. I've built a good relationship with Coach (Bobby) Williams over the past couple months, and he really liked me. He also said the defensive line coach liked me a lot - my body, my speed and athleticism."

During the conversation, Saban told Pipkins about the university and the football program, and with a lack of depth at the nose tackle position going forward, the UA head coach made it clear how Pipkins could be a nose tackle on the Tide's defense.

"He told me he likes me a lot and talked about how I would fit well in their 3-4 defense," Pipkins said. "He also said they have seniors in that position, so there could be some playing time opening up in the next couple of years, and I would have a shot at playing."

Monday's offer from Alabama was the ninth for Pipkins, but the massive prospect already has the Crimson Tide among his favorites along with Michigan, Michigan State and Tennessee.

"I like the defensive line production and who they're putting in the NFL," Pipkins said. "They just won a national championship (in 2009) so that's definitely a plus. Also, you're under Coach Saban. You can't ask for anything more than to be under Coach Saban. He's going to get you to where you need to be.

"I think it's awesome that anyone has the opportunity to play for Coach Saban because he knows how to win. He's a great coach and a great guy."

When Alabama won the national championship two seasons ago, it had Terrence Cody in the middle of the defensive line, taking on blocks and opening everything up for the rest of the defense.

Pipkins believes he can make a similar impact to Cody.

"They used Cody a lot," Pipkins said. "He caused double teams so linebackers and defensive ends were able to get free and get sacks. I feel like I can be the big guy in the middle to clog up some things and open it up for the linebackers, so they can get sacks and put pressure on the quarterback."

As a junior at Park Hill High School, Pipkins finished with 50 tackles, eight forced fumbles, seven fumble recoveries and three sacks. This year, his team may transition to a 4-3 defense, but feels like he can thrive in any type of scheme.

What's more important than the defensive scheme or distance from home for Pipkins is winning.

"I want to go somewhere that will make me a better player, a better person and a better athlete," he said. "It doesn't matter where it is or how far away it is or what scheme they play. I'm all about winning.

"I may have the worst game in my life, but as long as we get the win, I'll be fine."
Pipkins is planning to take an official visit to Tuscaloosa in the fall.

Reach Greg Ostendorf at [email protected]

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