Ewing comes full circle

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 8, 2001

After looking at Vols and Bulldogs, state’s top OL prospect went back to ‘Bama


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For Charles Henderson offensive lineman Von Ewing, Wednesday morning marked the official end of his high school career and the beginning of a journey.

In front of his parents, coaches and friends at the CHHS Media Center, Ewing signed a national letter-of-intent to attend the University of Alabama this fall on a full football scholarship.

Wednesday was National Signing Day for all high school senior football players to sign with the college of their choice.

Ewing, (6-5, 290), is thought by experts to be the best offensive line prospect in the state this season and verbally committed to Alabama prior to the start of the 2000 high school football schedule. After Mike DuBose was fired as the Crimson Tide’s head coach during a disastrous 3-8 season, Von committed to Georgia but then withdrew that commitment when Bulldogs head coach Jim Donnan was fired as well.

The senior Class 5A Lineman of the Year looked at Tennessee and then Michigan, before firmly deciding two weeks ago to stick with Alabama.

For Von, Alabama was where his heart was all the time. After Dennis Franchione was named the Crimson Tide’s new head coach on Dec. 4, Von said he was one of the first players to be contacted by Franchione.

"They still made a big push for me," Von said. "They (the UA coaching staff) called me the first day they got there and Coach Fran came down to visit me."

Von said he wasn’t influenced by the decision of Brodie Croyle, the state’s best quarterback, who chose to attend Alabama earlier in December, even though he and Croyle became close friends during football camp at Alabama in the summer.

"In the end, I had to do what was best for me," Von said. "I’m just glad it’s all over so now I can put it in the back of my mind and concentrate on my future with Alabama."

Von became one of the Crimson Tide’s biggest recruiters during the summer, talking to other prominent state athletes and attempting to persuade them to Tuscaloosa as well. He became friends, not only with Croyle, but Etowah running back Carnell Williams, this season’s "Mr. Football" in the state of Alabama.

Von wanted Williams to join him and Croyle at Alabama, but Williams committed to Auburn last Monday.

"That sort of hurt me a bit," Von said with a laugh. "I guess I’ll just have to see him across the field."

Like his son, Ewing’s father Cleveland echoes Von’s relief about the recruiting process finally coming to an end.

"It’s been a long grueling process and the closer it got to signing day the worse it got. I had no idea it would be like this, I really didn’t," said the elder Ewing. " But now, I think, there’s been a lot of pressure lifted off of him (Von), as well as myself. This was the day I’ve been looking forward to and I’m proud of him and for him. I’m just going to continue doing what a father should do for his son and be there for him these next four years."

Around any big name college football recruit, there’s going to be a great amount of interest generated, whether it be by phone call, letter or personal visits from college coaches. Cleveland said Von received more then his fair share.

"Not only did I have to chase them (recruiters) away but I would have to take the phone off the hook at a certain time of the night, just to get some sleep," he said. "With Von, he’s the type of person that can sit up until 10 or 11 o’clock at night just talking to people and still get up early in the morning."

Cleveland said down deep he wanted Von to stay in-state and go to Alabama, but he left the decision entirely up to his son.

"He was the one that was going to have to deal with it the next four or five years, not me or anyone else," Cleveland said. "And I wanted him to go somewhere that he had his mind and heart sat on. But in the end it all came back to home –

here and in Tuscaloosa. He likes it up there and he likes the coaching staff."

Von has made it known that he would like to redshirt his first year in Tuscaloosa and Cleveland agrees that may be the best thing for him.

"I wouldn’t mind a redshirt year, I really wouldn’t," he said. "That would give him a period of adjustment and more time to work toward a degree, something which I really want him to get from the University of Alabama, and also become more familiar with the program."