May 19, 2011

Ragland relishes leadership role

MADISON | If the University of Alabama was looking for a future leader of the defense in the 2012 recruiting class, it may have already found its man in Madison, Ala. linebacker Reggie Ragland.

Ragland, a member of the Rivals 250 rankings, plays both inside and outside linebacker for Bob Jones High School and serves as the team's leader on defense, a role that he doesn't take lightly.

"The one thing I like about getting to play linebacker is getting the chance to hit people and you're the leader of the defense," Ragland said. "You set the tone for everybody else to show out and do what they have to do on the field. That's why I love playing linebacker.

"I love being the leader because I like the game being on my shoulders most of the time, and at the end if we lose, I want to take that responsibility, grow in it and get better."

As a junior, Ragland finished with 91 tackles and helped lead the Patriots to a 9-4 record before losing in the state playoffs. The Alabama commit has loftier goals for his final season at Bob Jones.

"Like every high school athlete, I'm hoping for a state championship," Ragland said. "We've got a real good team coming back. Our defense is going to be real solid."

The team wrapped up spring practice last week. Ragland missed a week because of a turf burn that became infected, but he still finished strong with seven tackles in a quarter and a half during the spring game.

Despite his commitment to UA, that hasn't stopped other schools from trying to recruit Ragland. He said the school he is hearing from the most is Florida, and that a Gators' coach came by this week to see him.

"They're real strong on me," Ragland said. "They want me to come down to their camp this summer. They like what they see as far as my tape and stuff."

However, Ragland said he's still solid to Alabama, and Crimson Tide assistant coach Sal Sunseri recently came by to visit with him.

"We just talked about how my body is getting because I've been working out lately, and I'm getting bigger, stronger and faster," Ragland said. "He said I looked better than what I did last year."

Since basketball season ended, Ragland has trimmed down from 250 pounds to 245 pounds and said he feels better than he ever has. The two-sport athlete worked out with the basketball team this week but still hasn't decided if he is going to play next year.

"I'm in here doing basketball, trying to figure out if I want to play next year," Ragland said. "As far as me playing basketball, I don't know yet. I'm playing AAU for Southern Select, and that's helping me make my decision. That's also keeping me in shape and helping me a lot.

Ragland plans to be back in Tuscaloosa next month to attend Alabama's camp.

Reach Greg Ostendorf at [email protected]

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