Ryan Williams, a five-star wide receiver who was set to play for the Crimson Tide starting in 2024, decommitted from Alabama on Wednesday following Nick Saban’s retirement announcement.
Williams told ESPN he did not know of the news until he heard it on social media. He had been committed to Alabama since October but was going to wait to sign his national letter of intent until his birthday in February. The early signing period was in December.
"I had no idea, actually," he told ESPN. "It's the dead period and I just saw all the other players transferring or declaring for the draft. I was wondering (what would happen), but I found out through Twitter (that Saban was retiring).
"After Coach (Holmon) Wiggins leaving, it was already hard, because it's my position coach. But you can always find another position coach. With Coach Saban leaving, it's like the legacy leaving. That was the cherry on top."
Saban’s retirement came as a big surprise among college football fans.
"The University of Alabama has been a very special place to Terry and me," Saban said in a statement. "We have enjoyed every minute of our 17 years being the head coach at Alabama as well as becoming a part of the Tuscaloosa community. It is not just about how many games we won and lost, but it’s about the legacy and how we went about it.
"We always tried to do it the right way. The goal was always to help players create more value for their future, be the best player they could be and be more successful in life because they were part of the program. Hopefully, we have done that, and we will always consider Alabama our home."
It is unclear who will replace Saban at Alabama.
Williams said he is still deciding what happens next for him. He named Texas, Texas A&M and Auburn as contenders.