Archived Story

UA clears Calloway recruitment

Published 1:22pm Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The University of Alabama has reportedly found no violations in the recruitment of former Russellville star running back Brent Calloway, despite accusations made by an Auburn fan site host late last week.

Jeffrey Lee, who operates the Auburn website, told a Mobile-based radio show last Thursday that Calloway received a car from an unidentified man, who was later revealed as Russellville resident and businessman Darren Woodruff.

Lee also alleged that Woodruff paid Calloway’s adopted father, Harland “Peaches” Winston, $2,500 and said that Calloway was promised $1,200 a month for as long as he played at Alabama. Reports also suggested that Winston’s home mortgage was paid off.

Winston and Woodruff denied all allegations that anything improper took place during Calloway’s recruitment.

“My mortgage has been paid off for 15 years,” said Winston, who has had several children to move in with his family over the years, including current Russellville High School senior Travis Daniel.

“There is nothing to this. I never asked for any money from anybody and never got any money from anybody.”

Calloway moved to Russellville from Florence before his ninth grade year and was not eligible to participate in sports that year due to Alabama High School Athletic Association transfer rules. Following a standout sophomore season, Calloway became the first commitment for the Tide’s 2011 recruiting class.

Woodruff said he befriended Calloway when he first moved to Russellville and sees him as a member of his family.

“I love Brent like a son,” Woodruff said. “I have always wanted what was best for him, whatever that meant he decided to do. No matter what school he went to, I just wanted what was best for him.”

Calloway surprised many by switching his commitment to Auburn on national television during the U.S. Army All-American football game in January. On national signing day, he changed once again, and signed his letter of intent with Alabama.

Winston said Calloway was firmly committed to Alabama when he left home for the All-American game in San Antonio, Texas.

“I don’t know what happened down there, but he didn’t talk to me about it before he changed to Auburn,” he said.

“Somebody got to him and talked him into switching on TV like he did. I think they did that hoping that it would burn bridges with Alabama.”

The only part of the accusations made by Lee that both men confirmed were true was the fact that Woodruff took Calloway on a business trip with him to Florida on the weekend before Calloway was set to sign his national letter of intent.

“I asked the principal and the superintendent if we could hold Brent out of school for a couple of days so he could just get away,” Winston said.

Former Russellville head coach Doug Goodwin, who announced that he was accepting the head coaching job at Homewood just before signing day, told the Birmingham News that he was unable to speak with Calloway in the days leading up to signing day.

He described Calloway as “the only player in 26 years of coaching that I didn’t fax the scholarship in for. The only player I wasn’t allowed to have contact with for four days prior to signing day. That tells me they thought I was trying to push him to Auburn. That’s a slap in the face. That would be unprofessional on my part.”

Goodwin is a 1984 Auburn graduate.

Woodruff said he believes the deciding factor in Calloway’s decision to switch back to Alabama came on the weekend before signing day when he was on a visit to Alabama with Winston.

“Coach Goodwin called Peaches and just ran him down saying that he was pressuring Brent to go to Alabama. That was right in front of Brent and the Alabama coaches. Peaches is Brent’s daddy. I think that stuck with him more than anything.”

It was after this alleged confrontation that Winston asked Woodruff to take Calloway out of town with him.

“Brent was on the verge of a nervous breakdown and Peaches didn’t want Brent coming back to school and having to hear from Coach Goodwin,” Woodruff said. “Goodwin was angry that Brent went on a visit to Alabama that weekend. I think that was a pretty decisive moment because Brent heard the way Goodwin was talking to Peaches.

“If someone is recruiting your son and his high school coach is calling you telling you what you should and shouldn’t do, that would make anybody upset.”

Woodruff also provided text messages to the Times on Monday made to him from Goodwin on Jan. 31 asking if he paid Winston $2,500.

“I told him then that was not true and it’s still not true,” Woodruff said.

Alabama investigators reportedly interviewed officials at First Metro Bank last Friday as part of their investigation into Calloway’s recruitment.

“The people at First Metro Bank are good enough to do business with me and I assume that’s why they drug them into this, but that’s a shame. First Metro Bank has nothing to do with anything except for the fact that I bank there,” Woodruff said.

Winston said the accusations made against both men are unfair.

“We take in children because my wife has a heart for it and I have a heart for her,” Winston said.

“We take these kids and try to raise them like our own. If I had done any of this, it would be against everything that I stand for.”

Winston said the challenges made that Calloway received a car are also unfounded.

“Him and Travis both ride the bus to school everyday,” Winston said.

“If somebody saw him in a car, it wasn’t his, I know that.”

Woodruff said that he test-drove a late model Camaro for himself but as far as he knew, Calloway never even saw that vehicle.

“Peaches and I both told Brent that we supported whatever he wanted to do and wherever he went to college,” Woodruff said.

“The only thing I asked is that he graduate and come back to Russellville and help this community.”

Winston said the allegations made last week came out of nowhere and he chose not to speculate as to where they originated.

“I think it has a lot to do with getting the attention off the mess at Auburn right now,” he said. “We try to just let it go, but we are being run down about stuff that ain’t even close to the truth.”

Over the weekend, someone egged a car in Woodruff’s driveway and knocked his mailbox down.

“This has taken a life of its own and its not fair that people have tried to hurt Brent over things that are totally untrue,” Woodruff said.

“I wasn’t the least bit surprised that Alabama found nothing wrong, because no one here did anything wrong.”

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