TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Hunter Osborne heard the words he wanted to hear — it just took them a while to sink in. During his visit to Alabama on Saturday, the in-state defensive lineman was called into Nick Saban’s office for some big news.
“He said straight off the bat, ‘I like how you play. We’re going to offer you,’” Osborne recalled. “He said, ‘We see you getting bigger. We see your body developing, and we see you as a player we would want on our team, and we want you to come play for us.'”
Osborne was so ecstatic, he needed to make sure the head coach was serious.
“At first, I couldn’t really process it,” Osborne said. “I looked at my mom, and I was like, ‘Did he offer me?’ I had to double up and reconfirm it with him after we were done talking. I was like ‘You did say you were offering me, right?’ He was like, ‘Yes sir, I said that exactly.’ It didn’t settle in when he initially said it. I was shocked.”
Osborne shouldn’t be too surprised. The 6-foot-3, 250-pound defensive lineman is rated as the No. 187 player overall and the No. 14 player in the state of Alabama for the 2023 class, according to the 247Sports Composite. He’s coming off a junior season at Hewitt-Trussville High School in which he piled up 74 tackles, including 10 for a loss and 5.5 sacks, to go with 16 quarterback hurries and nine pass breakups.
Saturday, Saban told Osborne that he sees plenty of potential in his game moving forward.
“He said he likes how I play at the point of attack, how I strike with my hands, how I run to the ball and get off the line,” Osborne said. “We were talking about certain schemes and examples, and he brought up Jonathan Allen. He sees me like him. He came in around 240 and when he started playing for Bama he was around 270 and he moved to right end — not an edge guy but a true defensive end. That’s what he sees in me.”
Osborne would be totally fine if things played out that way.
“He’s a very successful player in the league to this day still,” he said of Allen. “He played great at Alabama, and he’s playing great with the Washington Football Team. It’s a great comparison, and I was very honored to be compared to him.”
Along with speaking with Saban, Osborne also caught up with Alabama defensive line coach Freddie Roach, who serves as his primary recruiter. Osborne typically speaks with Roach a few times a month but said over the past few weeks the two have been communicating more than ever.
“Our relationship is pretty good,” Osborne said. “We saw each other today, and it was like old friends meeting up. We talked a bit, made a few jokes, talked ball. It’s honestly a good relationship.”
Osborne is also close with a few Alabama players, including Hewitt-Trussville alumn Malachi Moore as well as incoming freshman Tre’Quan Fegans, who signed with the Crimson Tide from Thompson High School in Alabaster, Ala. The message from both has been clear.
“They say three words: ‘Come to Bama.’ It’s as simple as that,” Osborne said with a laugh. “They always ask me, ‘Why wouldn’t you want to come here? We’re winning, getting great coaching, great education and getting set up for success in the future.’”
Alabama doesn’t have to do too much to sell itself to Osborne. The Trussville native grew up cheering on the Crimson Tide. He was there in person when Tua Tagovailoa delivered his game-winning touchdown pass to DeVonta Smith to beat Georgia in overtime of the 2018 national championship game and has been to several games inside of Bryant-Denny Stadium. However, when it comes to choosing a school, he’s putting his love for the Crimson Tide to the side.
“It means a lot being in-state, living down the road from the school,” Osborne said. “But at the end of the day, I realize that this is a business decision. I won’t let my past fandom get in the way of that.”
Still, even from a purely business perspective, Alabama has a lot to offer.
“Just the atmosphere of Tuscaloosa,” Osborne said. “It’s always a great atmosphere, and everyone’s so friendly. The whole city is electric on Saturday nights when they play in Bryant-Denny. Then, the coaching staff. They develop, and that’s what they’re known for. They’re known for winning, and they’re known for developing. They send the most guys in the league every year”
Osborne attended three Alabama games last year, taking in the season opener against Miami in Atlanta before watching games against Mercer and LSU in Bryant-Denny Stadium. While he’s had the opportunity to soak up a lot of the campus during his visits, Saturday served as the first time he was able to tour the Tide’s new facilities.
“I really like the recovery side of the building,” Osborne said. “All the stuff they have for recovery was like, ‘Wow, I didn’t even know all that stuff was possible.”
Osborne said his recent offer from Alabama put the Tide among his top schools. However, he’s keeping the rest of his favorites close to the vest until he’s ready to announce a formal list.
The four-star defender is set to visit LSU next weekend and is planning on a visit to either Florida or Clemson in March. He’s also hoping to make a trip out west during the summer to visit Oregon and Southern California.