Prized Alabama recruit Antonio Alfano reportedly enters transfer portal before playing single game

Ben WeinribYahoo Sports Contributor
Yahoo Sports
Top Alabama recruit <a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/ncaaf/players/299013/" data-ylk="slk:Antonio Alfano">Antonio Alfano</a> entered the transfer portal, according to his father. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Top Alabama recruit Antonio Alfano entered the transfer portal, according to his father. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

The mysterious saga surrounding prized Alabama defensive tackle Antonio Alfano may be coming to an end soon, as the 2019 No. 5 overall recruit’s father announced on Twitter that his son entered the transfer portal on Thursday.

This does not mean that Alfano will necessarily depart Tuscaloosa, but it would likely allow him to play in 2020 without sitting out a year if he did transfer.

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Alfano was expected to immediately contribute as a freshman after enrolling early in January and racking up two sacks in their spring game. However, he may not play a single regular season game at Alabama at all.

Saban: ‘He kinda disappeared for a little bit’

Alfano’s role with the program has been murky since at least August, when he missed the Crimson Tide's first three preseason practices for what Saban deemed “personal reasons.” Alfano's father tweeted on Friday that Antonio’s grandmother is ill.

“Antonio’s grandmother recently fell very ill and is still fighting on life support,” Frankie Alfano said. “He is very close with her. Since this illness took effect, Antonio has taken it very hard. He has not attended classes and practices.”

While that may well be part of the reason for Alfano’s absence, head coach Nick Saban was a bit more cryptic in Wednesday’s press conference. He revealed that Alfano sat out Saturday’s game for disciplinary reasons and alluded to mistakes the 19-year-old had made.

“He’s kind of disappeared a little bit,” Saban said. “I talked to our team today about the fact that — people make mistakes. We all make mistakes. I make mistakes, probably everybody in this room makes mistakes. We make mistakes as parents. We make mistakes as coaches. We make mistakes in just about everything that we do.

“But I think you compound the problem when you don’t confront the mistakes that you make and you create greater consequences for yourself because of the choices and decisions that you make after you make a mistake. And so hopefully this will be a learning experience for all the guys in our team.”

Slow start to Alabama’s 2019 recruiting class

Alfano was the top defensive lineman in the 2019 class, but Alabama is also waiting for a contribution from its other prized freshman: No. 3 overall recruit Trey Sanders.

The running back out of IMG Academy is out indefinitely with a foot injury that may cost him the entire season. Alabama should still be happy with former No. 1 overall recruit Najee Harris and four-star back Brian Robinson Jr. splitting carries, but developing Sanders would have been a plus.

Potentially losing both of their top recruits would be a major blow to most programs, but it shouldn’t greatly change Alabama’s outlook this season. Alabama visits South Carolina at 3:30 p.m. ET on Saturday and will face its first ranked team on Oct. 12 at No. 16 Texas A&M.

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