All Hale

I've been covering high school football for a long time, and I've seen a lot of great players.

I've also seen some really special ones.

Like Justin Smith and Justin Gage ... they went on to play in the NFL. Justin Smith, especially, has been great and still is.

Now, Hale Hentges. Special as a player, special as a person.

A matchup nightmare.

The Helias senior-to-be verbally committed to play football for Nick Saban and Alabama he announced Sunday evening. The 6-5, 230- Hentges --- son of assistant coach Chris Hentges and the grandson of former legendary head coach at Helias, Ray Hentges --- will play tight end for the Crimson Tide.

"It's a great opportunity to play for Alabama and coach (Nick) Saban," Hale Hentges said. "I just want to thank coach (Phil) Pitts and Helias ... they've really given me a great environment to flourish as a student-athlete.

"I just feel really blessed and humbled."

It came down to Alabama, Missouri, Ohio State and Florida State. That is what you would call tall cotton.

"The big thing was that I really wanted to play under a pro-style offense," Hentges said. "It just felt like where I was supposed to be."

He will be joining Nick Saban. You may have heard of him.

"You can't describe how great of a person he is," Hentges said. "He just wants the best for you and I'm excited to play for him."

Hentges has 112 catches for 1,644 yards and 22 touchdowns in his first three years, not to mention 137 total tackles and 17 sacks from his defensive end position.

"I'm so happy and excited for him," Helias coach Phil Pitts said. "He plays the game the right way. I know this decision was really, really tough on him, really, really stressful.

"He really loved all the schools and it was hard for him to make a decision. He really didn't have a bad choice."

Great player, great young man.

"On the football field, he's so smart, so football smart," Pitts said. "He plays at such a high standard and he's a great kid to be around, a great teammate.

"He's got a lot skills that are God-given."

Alabama is lucky to have him.

Then again, it's Alabama. What's new?