Alabama, Mississippi State make final cut for 4-star LB Nik Bonitto

Nik Bonitto

Four-star linebacker Nik Bonitto has narrowed his list to a top seven, which includes two SEC programs.

“It was very hard because there are a lot of schools that are recruiting me hard,” Bonitto told GN. “There were a lot of factors that played into it, like my family and my coaching staff. It was more of a family decision than anything.”

Bonitto (6 feet 2, 205 pounds) stars for Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas, one of the best prep programs in the nation. He is among the top 15 outside linebackers in the country and is a top-175 overall talent nationally.

In releasing his top schools list, Bonitto had to say “no thanks” to more than 20 programs, and he says that was tough.

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“The schools and coaches that I didn’t put in my top seven, I had texted them a few days before to let them know in advance,” he said. “They really respected me for doing that instead of doing it behind their backs.

“It was very hard to tell coaches that I wasn’t coming to their school, but at the end of the day, they have respect for me and that’s all I’m asking.”

Why are Alabama and Mississippi State finalists?

“Alabama has great tradition and they get guys into the league,” Bonitto said. “I feel like I would be a great defender over there for them, and they can use me in a lot of places.”

Mississippi State is on the list in part because of activities off the football field.

“Coach (Terrell) Buckley (cornerbacks coach and recruiting coordinator) talks to me a lot and he really believes in what I can do,” he said. “He feels like I’m a guy that can come in and play right away if I do the right things. I also have the opportunity to play both football and basketball there.”

Each of the Power Five conferences is represented in Bonitto’s final seven.

“I didn’t know that was going to happen, to be honest,” he said. “I was more of an in-state guy, but these coaches have been on me really hard and they believe in me and what I’m doing, so that’s mostly what factored into it.”

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How does Bonitto describe his game?

“I feel like I’m a guy that can play multiple positions,” Bonitto said. “I can go down and rush the passer, and I can also play linebacker. I can play all around the field and even guard wide receivers. I can do a lot of things on a football field.”

Don’t expect a commitment anytime soon.

“I’m taking my time with it,” he said. “I’m going to set up my official visits first before I do anything.”

(You can follow Ryan Green on Twitter @RyanGreenGN)

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