Baylor standout Amari Jefferson picks Alabama over Georgia, Tennessee

Will play football and baseball for Crimson Tide

Staff photo by Matt Hamilton / Baylor's Amari Jefferson runs for a touchdown after catching a pass during the TSSAA Division II-AAA BlueCross Bowl state final  in December 2022.
Staff photo by Matt Hamilton / Baylor's Amari Jefferson runs for a touchdown after catching a pass during the TSSAA Division II-AAA BlueCross Bowl state final in December 2022.

Amari Jefferson will wear a different shade of red in college.

The Baylor School two-sport standout announced his commitment to the University of Alabama on Saturday afternoon at Baylor’s Duke Arena, choosing the Crimson Tide over Georgia and Tennessee less than two weeks before his senior year of high school begins.

“Basically it came down to Nick Saban and the way he develops receivers,” Jefferson, who wore a straw hat with the trademark crimson script “A” after revealing Tuscaloosa as his planned destination, said of the Alabama football coach.

The 6-foot, 195-pound Jefferson, who will play both that sport and baseball for the Crimson Tide, visited both Alabama and Tennessee last weekend.

“I made those visits really just for clarification on my decision,” Jefferson said. “I wanted to see Alabama baseball for the first time before I committed, and that went well. I knew in my head it was going to be Alabama, but I wanted to make absolutely sure.

“Coach Saban told me multiple times on my visit back in June, ‘We don’t just want you, Amari, we need you.’ That’s really what made me realize that’s where I was going to go.”

During his junior football season, he made 56 catches for 1,258 yards and 12 touchdowns to help the Red Raiders win the TSSAA Division II-AAA championship, the program’s first football state title in 49 years. He was also part of Baylor’s 2021 state championship baseball team.

“Alabama is getting a dynamic playmaker,” Baylor football coach Erik Kimrey said. “He can score any time he touches from anywhere on the field. What separates him is the way he approaches the game. He’s an elite competitor who’s also very intelligent.

“For a guy who spends half his time playing another sport, it’s scary to think what he could evolve into being. The sky’s the limit for Amari.”

Jefferson becomes the first football player from Hamilton County to commit to Alabama under Saban, and he would be the first Chattanooga-area player to sign with the Tide since 2021, when kicker Adam Griffith of Georgia power Calhoun did so. The only other area player to sign with a Saban-coached Tide team was former North Jackson (Alabama) linebacker Tana Patrick in 2009.

A consensus four-star football prospect, Jefferson is ranked as high as the No. 2 overall player in Tennessee by On3.com, which rates him the 19th overall receiver nationally, while 247Sports.com lists him as the state’s No. 3 overall prospect.

He is also one of the state’s top 15 baseball prospects, according to multiple scouting services, and among the top 250 nationally. Last season, he made just one error from center field in 24 games and stole 10 bases for the Red Raiders.

“His ceiling athletically is as high as anybody I’ve ever coached,” Baylor baseball coach Greg Elie. “What he’s been able to do splitting his time between sports, to go from a 7-on-7 camp to hitting a 98 mph fastball, is really tough to do. His skill set is sensational.”

Contact Stephen Hargis at shargis@timesfreepress.com.