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North's Shepherd chooses Bama

Two visits to Alabama the past two months were enough to sway Austin Shepherd.

The North Gwinnett junior made a commitment to the Crimson Tide's football program Monday afternoon, choosing coach Nick Saban's team over his other two favorites, Georgia and Tennessee. Those two schools had not extended an official offer, but Alabama made an early one that was too good to pass up.

Shepherd didn't intend to commit this early - signing day for high school seniors was barely more than a month ago - but Alabama was his clear choice. His only other offer this early in the process was from Alabama-Birmingham.

"When I went Jan. 30, I was just shell-shocked," Shepherd said. "I thought, 'This place is awesome. I've never seen a college like this. This is where I want to go to school.'"

Shepherd took unofficial visits to Auburn, Florida State, Georgia and Central Florida after his first Alabama visit, but those trips only reinforced his desire to play in Tuscaloosa. The Tide coaches have told the 6-foot-5, 310-pounder that he will most likely play offensive guard, but also tackle if he's needed there.

He will join Brookwood senior Kellen Williams on the Alabama offensive line. Williams signed with the Crimson Tide last month.

Shepherd's North teammate, offensive tackle Juwan James, also has an offer from Alabama, as does Norcross tackle Max Garcia.

"I know Kellen Williams and it would be pretty cool if Juwan went there, too," Shepherd said. "It would be great to have three Gwinnett kids on the offensive line."