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The Commitments

The Class of 2002 is beginning to take shape for University of Alabama Head Coach Dennis Franchione and his staff. The early results point to a return to a "tried and true" formula for football success at the Capstone and a return to some "old stomping grounds" in search of new talent. The motherland is once again being harvested for championship level players and the new staff still knows their way around the Lone Star state.<p>

Other changes in the recruiting philosophy are also apparent with a close look at the first seven commitments. All seven are projected qualifiers and the concept of rolling the dice on academic risks appears to be a thing of the past. Additionally, all are known for their tough, hard-nosed style of play. All are natural football players with the athletic ability to compete and the work ethic to fully develop their talents.

Six of the seven prospects who have given their commitments to come on board are from the state of Alabama. All six are among the top 30 prospects in the state. The newest commitment hails from Texas and he too is highly thought of in his native state. The recruiting process is just heating up and the following is a capsule look at the current public commitments:

QB Brandon Avalos (6-1.5/178/4.65) Hillcrest High School-Tuscaloosa, AL- Avalos is a dual-threat from his quarterback position. The latest offensive trends of four and five wide receiver sets have been met with increased defensive pressure on quarterbacks. Consequently, offensive coaches are now scouring the prep ranks for athletic passers with the ability to beat defenses with their arms or their legs. Avalos brings a combination of excellent running skills and solid passing ability to the table. As a junior, Avalos completed over 50 percent of his passes for 1,120 yards and eight touchdowns. He also torched opposing defenses for another 458 yards and six touchdowns on the ground.

RB Kenneth Darby (5-10.5/188/4.54) Butler High School-Huntsville, AL- Darby runs the football with a low center of gravity and good speed. He is a well-rounded running back according to his head coach. "Kenneth is strong and quick," said Butler High School Head Coach Ron Danley. "He can do it all as a blocker, receiver, or runner." As a junior, Darby rushed for 1,651 yards and 20 touchdowns. He also caught 21 passes for 286 yards and one touchdown. Defensively, Darby tallied 86 tackles, five fumbles caused, three fumbles recovered, and one interception from his outside linebacker position. Opposing teams weren't allowed to take a breather from Darby on special teams either as he also accumulated 229 yards on returns.

OL Grant Dickey (6-4.5/305/5.28) Lee High School-Tyler, TX- Dickey is known for his physical, smash-mouth brand of football according to HeartlandRecruiting.com analyst David Garvin. "Dickey is a real pile-driver," said Garvin. "He's just a great run blocker who can lead the way." Dickey averaged over 80 percent on his blocking assignments despite an extremely tough grading scale. He recently had arthroscopic surgery performed on his knee and the joint held up well to the demands of the summer camp circuit. Dickey turned in impressive physical test results such as a 4.7 second shuttle run even without the benefit of a completed rehabilitation schedule. Versatility is another asset of Dickey's as he could project at more than one position along the offensive line.

OLB Juwan Garth (6-2.5/189/4.64) Austin High School-Decatur, AL- Garth projects as an outside linebacker on the college level. On film, Garth is a contact player who can run. Some college programs evaluated Garth as a big wide receiver but the Alabama staff recruited him to fill the role of an outside linebacker with additional coverage responsibilities. Brooks Daniels is the current starter at this hybrid position and Alabama fans will become much more familiar with the responsibilities of the position this fall. As a junior, Garth recorded 78 tackles, four fumbles caused, two fumbles recovered, one interception, and one blocked punt. Offensively, he caught 13 passes for 378 yards and four touchdowns.

DE Chris Harris (6-6/225/4.72) Central High School-Tuscaloosa, AL-Harris committed very early in the recruiting process and has probably not received the recognition he deserves from recruiting analysts. College coaches always mention Harris as a "flash guy," which is a player with the ability to rush the passer with quickness and speed off the edge. Harris has the height and frame to get much larger and he still has the flexibility to change directions well around the line of scrimmage. He projects as a defensive end on the college level. As a junior, Harris contributed 82 tackles and 17 sacks toward his team's cause. Harris will also play some tight end on offense as a prep senior.

CB Ramzee Robinson (5-9.5/168/4.53) Butler High School-Huntsville, AL- Robinson played quarterback as a junior to meet team needs and he‘ll also play the position as a senior. However, he'll make a return to defensive back on the college level, which is where Robinson spent his sophomore season on the gridiron. As a defensive back, Robinson is known as a quick athlete with good cover skills and the defensive mentality to "bring the wood" as a tackler. His athletic ability allowed him to make the move to offense where he passed for 1,112 yards and 12 touchdowns. Robinson also added 502 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. Versatility is one of Robinson's assets according to his head coach. "Ramzee is a good athlete who could play wide receiver or cornerback on the college level," said Butler High School Head Coach Ron Danley.

DT Kyle Tatum (6-6/259/4.82) Prattville, AL-Tatum is one of the top prospects in the nation and maybe the top prospect in the state of Alabama. He projects as a defensive tackle on the college level. Tatum made the summer football camp circuit and he consistently ran in the 4.7-4.8 range in the 40-yard dash. Additionally, his vertical jump was also consistently measured at 30 inches. Last season was Tatum's first as a defensive lineman but he still racked up 75 tackles, 19 tackles for losses, nine sacks, four fumbles caused, and two fumbles recovered. Tatum is expected to also see some action on the offensive side of the football as a tight end during his last season of football on the prep level.

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