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Isaiah Hastings, Canada's Top Football Prospect, Places Alabama No. 1 After Official Visit

Official visit to Tuscaloosa sets the bar for coveted defensive line recruit

You never forget your first. 

For Isaiah Hastings, the initial official visit of the college football recruiting process was long overdue. The Canadian defensive lineman, playing in 2021 at Clearwater (Fla.) Academy International, considered summer official visits but passed. He then had one to Oregon set for earlier in October, but it was cancelled due to strikes within the airline industry

Alabama hosted the 6'4", 295-pound prospect over the weekend and the multi-day stay in Tuscaloosa went quite well for both parties. The Crimson Tide got a big home win over Tennessee and Hastings has a new leader in his recruitment. 

"They're probably number one right now," he told Sports Illustrated. "It's the only official I've taken right now and I'll probably take others to see how it is. They've showed a lot of love, they're the best team in the country and they want to be the best. 

"If you go to Alabama, you're literally playing for a dynasty and the greatest coach of all time."

Of course the man on the mantle at UA has plenty of proof for the process. In between academic presentations, tours, jersey fittings and the game itself, Nick Saban was a constant on the visit. 

The time with the head coach wasn't just about the winning, NFL production and standard on campus.

"It was great, I met with Coach Saban many times," Hastings said. "I went over to his house, I saw him before the game and after the game. At his house, I had breakfast there. In all the interviews you get the feeling he's very serious, and he is a serious man. But at the same time he is very calm, a chill coach and a chill person at the same time.

"In person I get a different vibe from him. He's talking football but also just talking life, how he grew up, how he loves cars and everything. Especially in the morning, it was about who he is, going to the lake driving boats, and great stories."

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The feel of the time in Tuscaloosa had one of America's most coveted defensive prospects connected to droves of people affiliated with the Crimson Tide program, from players to their families and beyond.

 Hastings likes how it pairs with the culture of the team itself. 

"What I really like about Alabama is that they're winners and they want to be the best," he said. "That's something I want to be as well. But when you meet them it's more of a family feel. From the outside looking in it's like, 'oh 'Bama, they're very serious and militant.' And they are very serious about the game, but it also has a family appeal." 

Time with Saban is often memorable for prospects in town, especially those who get time near the water like the group of visitors did, but it also affords more time to connect with potential position coaches. 

Alabama defensive line coach Freddie Roach has been consistent with the program's latest Canadian target. 

"My and Coach Roach are building a great, great relationship," he said. "I was with him a lot, too, even at Coach Saban's house riding the golf cart with him. It almost flipped over when I was driving. We were in the woods going up and down hills, on a bunch of branches and stuff. It was tilting a little bit (laughing). 

"He's very hyped, fun to be around."

Moving forward, Hastings will most likely see other campuses before a verbal commitment is to be made. The list will include Oregon, who will "fore sure" get the cancelled visit rescheduled. Other programs long in the mix include Georgia, Florida and Michigan.  

There is no timetable for a decision in between now and the Early Signing Period, beginning December 15, when senior prospects can sign a National Letter of Intent.