Alabama Crimson Tide: Nick Saban and Nate Oats not joking on two-sport stars

(Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) /

Alabama Crimson Tide coaches Nick Saban and Nate Oats agree on 2-sport stars

Alabama Crimson Tide coaches, Nick Saban and Nate Oats may joke around at times. Neither ever jokes about the building and development of their teams. Few coaches of elite programs are willing to share any of their top athletes with another sport. Saban and Oats are two of the few.

Nate Oats has been open about admiring and learning from Nick Saban. Beginning with both having friendships with Michigan State coach, Tom Izzo, the Crimson Tide pair quickly connected. While it may mostly be a teacher-student relationship, Oats is as determined as Saban to build a Championship program.

In the 2021 recruiting cycle, two of the best football prospects are also good basketball players. One, Ga’Quincy ‘Kool-Aid’ McKinstry is a 5-star rated cornerback. Based on the 247Sports Composite he is ranked the No. 22 player in the 2021 football class. McKinstry plays football and basketball for Pinson Valley High School in Pinson, AL.

The other player is Terrion Arnold. Arnold plays football and basketball in Tallahassee, FL. He is rated a 4-Star football player and ranked No. 191 in the nation. 247Sports rates Arnold as the No. 85 player in the 2021 class indicating he will be close to a Top 100 player when Rivals and ESPN update. Arnold is projected to play cornerback, safety and return specialist in college.

Search for McKinstry or Arnold on basketball recruiting sites and there may be no indication of interest by Nate Oats. One reason is Oats has not offered either player a scholarship. If they accept football scholarships, they can only be walk-ons for another sport.

Don’t think Oats is not interested. Check out what Arnold said of conversations with Nate Oats.

"He kind of compared my game to like a Ja Morant. He also said if I needed to take over a game and score at will, then I have the ability to do that. He says he wants to see a lot more of that, kind of like John Wall or Collin Sexton"

The Alabama Crimson Tide programs are not the only ones open to two-sport options. Auburn is for McKinstry and Florida State, the same for Arnold.

Arnold and McKinstry are potential Alabama Crimson Tide football stars. Can the same be said as basketball players? McKinstry is a shade under six-feet. Arnold is 6-feet-2. Both have hops aplenty. Being a college, two-sport athlete has schedule challenges, especially with the over-lapping seasons between football and basketball.

Perhaps they can become integral to Alabama basketball success – as Herb Jones is to the Crimson Tide. One roster value to Nate Oats would be continuity. NBA Draft attrition is less of a threat to football players committed to Tuscaloosa for three seasons.

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Henry Ruggs III certainly had the skill to play Division One basketball. Given his success in the NFL Draft, concentrating on one sport proved best.