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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Despite recently wrapping up his sophomore season of high school, Jaylen Mbakwe already has offers from several of college football’s premier programs. However, the latest one means a bit more to the Pinson Valley, Ala., native.

During his visit to Alabama on Saturday, Mbakwe and his mother were called into Nick Saban’s office where the Crimson Tide head coach delivered a bit of good news.

“We basically started talking, and he just told me that I have the offer and to just come to camps to showcase my skills moving forward,” Mbakwe said. “It means a lot to get that offer from Coach Saban. It means that I can put on for my city. It was actually crazy. I’ve been growing up watching them, so that’s what made it even better.”

Mbakwe grew up rooting for the Crimson Tide and has visited Alabama’s campus four to five times. Saturday’s stop in Tuscaloosa only added to his comfortability with the Capstone.

“It’s most definitely a place I like,” Mbakwe said. “I see myself playing there for three years before going to the NFL. It’s somewhere where I could get my degree and stuff like that.”

Mbakwe plays both ways for Alabama Class 6A champion Clay-Chalkville High School. During the Cougars’ 15-0 run last season, the 6-foot, 170-pound playmaker recorded 36 receptions for 677 yards and nine touchdowns while also notching four interceptions and 12 pass deflections. 

Mbakwe already has several ties to Alabama as he’s close with fellow Clay-Chalkville alumn D.J. Dale as well as other Birmingham-area players in Malachi Moore, Kool-Aid McKinstry and Tim Keenan III. Speaking with that group regularly, the rising high school junior already has a little bit of an idea of what life would be like with the Crimson Tide.

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“They just tell me to come and put in hard work,” Mbakwe said. “It might be hard your first year, but once you get going over there it really makes you better. Just keep your head down, learn the playbook, be a great guy, do work and you’ll be fine.”

Along with getting a better understanding of the program, Mbakwe said he was encouraged by seeing Moore and McKinstry break into the first-team defense during their freshman seasons. Over the next two year’s he’s aiming to put himself in a similar position when he reaches the college level.

“That’s a big ol’ deal just because I’ve got two parents who want to stop working someday,” Mbakwe said. “It just makes me want to grind that much harder. It makes me go harder for them and my siblings so I can take care of them.”

In addition to soaking up information from current Alabama players, Mbakwe has also built a close relationship with his area recruiter, Freddie Roach. The two speak at least once a week discussing life both on and off the field.

“Me and Coach Roach, our bond is actually like big brother and little brother,” Mbakwe said. “It’s pretty cool hanging out with him every time we see each other or when I go down there.”

Along with Alabama, Mbakwe also has offers from Arkansas, Auburn, Georgia, Louisville and Tennessee among others. While he isn’t ready to name a list of leaders just yet, it’s safe to say the Crimson Tide is among his early contenders.

“They stand top-five, top-three,” Mbakwe said. “There’s a lot of schools that have shown a lot of interest. I probably won’t name a top group of teams until my senior year, so we’ll see how everything goes.”

Over the next few months, Mbakwe said he plans on visiting Arkansas, Georgia and Tennessee as well as making a return trip to Louisville. Another trip to to Tuscaloosa in the near feature is practically a given as well.