Alabama coach Nick Saban did everything he could to convince safety Vinnie Sunseri to stay at UA for one more season, but the junior who missed the latter part of the season with an ACL tear told Atlanta's 790 The Zone he is convinced he is ready for the NFL. Sunseri's was one of the few decisions among early-declaring underclassmen which was still in question as the Jan. 15 deadline passed and entered the three-day grace period that allows prospects to change their minds. UA didn't acknowledge Sunseri's decision with a news conference, as it did with four others, or even a press release.
"Coach has his process and how he wants to handle certain things. He really wanted me to stay. Him and Coach Kirby Smart did everything they could to keep me to stay," Sunseri told the station, which posted an audio file of the interview at 790thezone.com. "For me, it's not about the money. I just want to be as successful as I can and I feel like I'm ready to take that next step and prove myself in the NFL."
Perhaps it's a good thing that it's not about the money, because Sunseri likely won't likely see much -- relatively speaking -- with his rookie contract. Sunseri told the station his official feedback from the NFL Draft Advisory Board projected him as a fourth-round pick, although the board's five official feedback categories group rounds four through seven together. That could translate into a lengthy Day Three wait as the draft concludes May 10.
"I'm one of those guys who will come down in the box and fit the run if I need to fit the run, and I can go back in the middle of the field and go sideline to sideline if I need to do that," Sunseri said.
Sunseri said he will attend the NFL Scouting Combine and "see what I can do there," and believes his rehab will allow him to participate fully in a pro day workout. Not known for his man-to-man coverage skills, Sunseri (6-0, 210 pounds) is a sound tackler, has good instincts and a strong track record as a special-teams performer. With Alabama already losing Ha Ha Clinton-Dix early to the draft, as well as senior cornerback Deion Belue, Sunseri's decision will leave Alabama's secondary extremely short on experience for 2014.
NFL cornerbacks needn't fear for their jobs where Sunseri is concerned, but if the club that drafts him has a safety that missed too many tackles last year, the son of Florida State and former Carolina Panthers assistant Sal Sunseri could be the answer.
Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.