Coach says Elam's Kentucky-Alabama decision could come late next week

broberts@herald-leader.comJanuary 24, 2014 

Matt Elam has long been the No. 1 recruiting priority for Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops.

PHOTO PROVIDED

A recruitment that has taken Matt Elam to so many of the campuses most associated with big-time college football is in its final days, and the last stop is Lexington.

Elam — the highly touted defensive tackle from Elizabethtown — will be in town Saturday for one more unofficial visit to UK. He'll ride up with John Hardin Coach Chad Lewis, see the Wildcats' home basketball game against Georgia, meet with the UK football staff and head back home.

On Sunday, Elam plans to sit down with his family and go over a decision that he's been trying to reach for months. He had been planning to reveal his final choice — UK or Alabama — on national signing day, which is Feb. 5.

Lewis expects Elam to announce his decision before then.

"It's not set in stone yet, but I feel like he's going to possibly announce late in the week next week," Lewis told the Herald-Leader.

Elam had originally scheduled to announce his college decision at the Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 4, but he postponed the announcement that morning. He told Lewis at the time that he was "torn" over the decision. Elam also hadn't taken an official visit to Alabama, and his mother had never been on the campus.

The family took that trip last weekend, spending time with Alabama Coach Nick Saban one last time before the big decision. Saban and UK Coach Mark Stoops have both used their final off-campus visit with Elam, but assistant coaches from both schools were in Hardin County on Wednesday.

Lewis said both visits went well.

Defensive line coach Jimmy Brumbaugh, defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot and offensive coordinator Neal Brown were there for the Cats. Defensive assistants Bo Davis and Lance Thompson represented the Crimson Tide.

With so many in-home, in-school and on-campus visits behind them, there's not much to say about the recruitment.

"Neither staff is really throwing much of a sales pitch at this point," Lewis said. "Matt knows what they are. He's been on visits to both of them on numerous occasions. And it's really just trying to keep that contact with him and recruit until the very end. The salesmanship, so to speak, is really over at this point."

Now's the time for Elam to cut through the clutter.

Considered a five-star player by 247Sports, Elam is one of the state's most-hyped football prospects in recent years. He's become a "statement" recruit — as one Alabama newspaper put it — for a rebuilding UK program that's trying to keep one of its best local players close to home.

His commitment is also coveted by Saban, who has made multiple recruiting trips to Kentucky and spent a considerable amount of time trying to persuade Elam to join him in Tuscaloosa.

And then there are fans and various hangers-on who are attempting to steer Elam in the direction that benefits them most. Those closest to Elam are just hoping he blocks out those distractions and makes the decision that's right for him.

Lewis said Elam recently got a piece of advice from his high school principal on who to listen to and who to trust as he tackles that life-changing decision. The "fors and the froms," the principal called it.

"You have to listen to people that don't want things from you but are actually there for you," Lewis said. "And that's so true. He's got a lot of froms out there right now."

Ben Roberts: (859) 231-3216.Twitter: @NextCats.Blog: ukrecruiting.bloginky.com.

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