RECRUITING: Alabama Top 35-Part III

Who are the top 35 prospects in Alabama? There is no absolute method of ranking prospects but our research has produced 35 prospects with early offers. Updated lists will follow as the recruiting season moves along but the following list is a good place to start the pre-season rankings of the top prospects in the state. The Top 35 list will be presented alphabetically and it will be broken down into three parts. The following is Part III:

LB Ernest Nance (6-2/210/4.68) Courtland, AL- "Ernest is the fastest player on our team and he's an aggressive guy who flies to the football," said Courtland High School Head Coach Lymus McDonald. "He's just a tenacious player with football instincts." Nance runs well enough that he also competes on the track team (100-meters, 200-meters, triple-jump) and the basketball team (20 ppg, nine rpg). On the gridiron, Nance tallied 121 tackles, ten sacks, two fumble recoveries, one interception, and one blocked punt. Offensively, Nance rushed for 1,101 yards and eight touchdowns. Nance has already received scholarship offers from Alabama, Arkansas, Ole Miss, and UAB.

OL James Newby (6-5/252/5.11) Athens, AL- "James understands the game and he anticipates what is going to happen on the field," said Athens High School Head Coach Allen Creasy. "He never gets knocked off his feet and he plays well in the open field. James is just a very driven person and a great football player." As a junior, Newby recorded 115 tackles, seven passes broken up, seven sacks, five fumbles recovered, and one blocked punt on defense. In the classroom, Newby maintains a 3.0 GPA and he scored a 20 on the ACT. Newby has already received scholarship offers from Central Florida, Georgia Tech, North Carolina State, and Southern Mississippi.

WR Ben Obomanu (6-2/184/4.50) Selma, AL- Obomanu is the model student-athlete who competes in the classroom and on the football field. In the classroom, Obomanu maintains a 4.3 GPA and he scored a 26 on the ACT. He heads into his senior year in a tie to be his class valedictorian. On the football field, Obomanu has 66 career receptions for 1,633 yards and 16 touchdowns. Defensively, he has recorded 103 tackles and seven interceptions for his career totals. Over the summer, Obomanu attended football camps at Alabama, Auburn, Nebraska, Ole Miss, and UAB. Obomanu has scholarship offers from Alabama, Auburn, Louisiana State, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ole Miss, and Northwestern among others.

FB Byron Oliver (6-0/218/4.61) Jemison, AL- "Byron has great balance for a big guy and he runs the ball with good leverage," said Jemison High School Head Coach Brent Hubbert. "He's an exceptional athlete and a great person, too." As a junior, Oliver rushed for 1,410 yards and 15 touchdowns on 160 attempts. He also contributed 87 tackles, three interceptions, and two sacks on defense. On special teams, Oliver made the most of limited opportunities as he returned three kickoffs for 155 yards and two touchdowns. Oliver attended summer football camp at Auburn. The big guy sports a 30-inch vertical jump which is another example of his outstanding athleticism.

FB Trevis O'Neal (6-1/215/4.63) Leeds, AL- "Trevis has the ability to score every time he touches the football," said Leeds High School Head Coach Tim Sanders. "He's a big back but he has soft hands and he catches the football real well." O'Neal rushed for 1,587 yards and 14 touchdowns on 148 attempts as a junior. He also finished second on his team in tackles despite playing in only nine games on that side of the football. O'Neal won the 55-meters sprint at the state indoor track meet with a time of 6.75 seconds. O'Neal attended summer football camps at Auburn and Louisiana State. Iowa, Louisville, and UAB have already offered scholarships.

WR Matt Pierce (6-1/175/4.61) UMS-Wright Prep-Mobile, AL- "Matt has great hands and he doesn't drop anything," said UMS-Wright Prep Head Coach Terry Curtis. "He also does the things the great receivers do to get open." As a junior, Pierce caught 58 passes for 1,212 yards and 14 touchdowns. Pierce also returned two punts for touchdowns. In one game, Pierce caught four passes for 194 yards and three touchdowns and he also added a 74-yard punt return for a touchdown. Pierce attended summer football camps at Alabama, Clemson, and Louisiana State. Army has already extended a scholarship offer to Pierce. In the classroom, Pierce maintains a 3.3 GPA and he scored a 20 on the ACT.

WR/DB Montavis Pitts (6-0/180/4.43) Loachapoka, AL- Pitts burst on to the recruiting scene at the Capital City Combine in Montgomery, Alabama with the fastest time in the 40-yard dash. Pitts won the 1A state championship sprints in the 100-meters (10.97) and the 200-meters (21.86 seconds). In football, Pitts passed for 1,262 yards and ten touchdowns and he also rushed for 304 yards and six more scores. His touchdown total reached 23 as he also returned four kickoffs, two punt returns, and one interception for touchdowns. Pitts attended summer football camps at Auburn, Louisiana State, and Tennessee. All three of those programs have extended scholarship offers along with Alabama, Florida, Ole Miss, and Virginia Tech.

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. Committed to Alabama.

ATH Titus Ryan (6-1/190/4.42) Tuscaloosa County High School- Northport, AL- "Titus is a tremendous athlete who played his first season of football last year," said Tuscaloosa County High School Head Coach Robert Higginbotham. Ryan progressed as the season went along and he finished the year with 1,501 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns. He added two more scores on receptions. Ryan is also a track athlete with blazing speed as he finished second in the 6A state championships in the 100-meters (10.65) and the 200-meters (21.63). He also finished second in the 55-meters (6.54) at the state indoor track meet. Ryan attended summer football camp at Alabama. Scholarship offers have already been extended by Alabama, Auburn, and UAB.

LB Kevin Sears (6-4.5/218/4.69) Russellville, AL- "Kevin is being recruited as a linebacker but I could see him growing into a defensive end at some point in his career," said Russellville High School Head Coach Perry Swindall. As a junior, Sears tallied 75 tackles, seven interceptions, seven passes broken up, and one fumble recovered. He also played 10-12 snaps per game as a wide receiver and still managed to catch 22 passes for 232 yards. On special teams, Sears returned eight punts for 85 yards. Sears is the cousin of former Auburn player, Colin Sears. He attended summer football camp at Auburn and the Tigers have offered along with UAB.

DT Henry Smith (6-3/281/5.01) Aliceville, AL- Smith's excellent quickness, size, and strength should provide him the tools to be a highly productive defensive tackle on the college level. As a junior, Smith recorded 160 tackles, eight sacks, one fumble recovered, and one interception as he led Aliceville to a 15-0 record and a 3A state championship. He attended summer football camps at Alabama and Auburn. Smith also plays left tackle on the offensive line and his ability on that side of the football could have the coordinators of his future college fighting for his services. Alabama, Auburn, Louisiana State, Tennessee, and UAB have all extended scholarship offers to Smith.

DT Kyle Tatum (6-6/259/4.84) 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. Committed to Alabama.

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