Luke Del Rio received multiple scholarship offers out of high school, but thought walking on at Alabama would be the best fit.
And it was for awhile.
Even though Del Rio was listed as the No. 3 quarterback behind AJ McCarron and Blake Sims, Del Rio told Oregon media on Friday that coaches said he would be the first to go in if McCarron suffered an injury.
But at the end of the year, Del Rio wanted more of a commitment from coach Nick Saban in the form of a full scholarship and Saban didn’t agree.
“(Saban) said, ‘We’re not ready to make that commitment yet from a business perspective,’” Del Rio said. “He said if he had the numbers, then he would have done it. And I respected that.
“But I sort of saw the writing on the wall, and I left. I didn’t know who would still be interested.”
Del Rio landed at Oregon State and was granted immediate eligibility by the NCAA last Friday. He is currently in the mix for the backup quarterbacking spot with Brent VanderVeen and Kyle Kempt. Sean Mannion has a tight hold on the starting role.
Del Rio is trying to learn Oregon State’s spread offense, which he noted was different than what he was leaning in Tuscaloosa. However, he said, the talent level wasn’t much different.
“You have speed down there, you have speed up here,” Del Rio said. “We have receivers that could compete for starting jobs down there. We have O-linemen that could compete for starting jobs down there. They’re just so intense at Alabama. The expectation, the culture that they’ve built there, is so cut-throat. You have to win. If you don’t, then it’s a let down. And that’s what we’re building here.”
Del Rio also compared Saban’s coaching style to that of Oregon State coach Mike Riley.
“(Riley’s) a little more mild-tempered,” he said. “I’m not really getting yelled at as much. But you know, each coach has their style that works for each coach. They recruit players that respond to that sort of coaching.”
However, Del Rio, the son of Denver Broncos defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio, said his season at Alabama did get him ready for the big-game atmosphere of major college football and learning how to adjust in that environment.
“Every game, there’s 100,000 people (in the crowd), it’s top-10 teams playing every week,” he said. “The stakes are so big that you learn to quiet your mind a little bit, to take it one step at a time. Some guys get kind of wide-eyed when they see all of that. It really helped me with the mental side of (the game).”