Combo-athlete commits to Tide

Very often for whatever reason excellent athletes just don't receive the recruiting publicity they deserve, which so far has been the case with Alabama's most recent commitment, Aaron McDaniel.

McDaniel is one of those high school athletes who essentially plays everywhere on the football field. At one time or another he's taken snaps at quarterback, defensive back and running back for Fort Payne High School.

Fort Payne observers describe Aaron McDaniel (6-1, 170, 4.5) as "real athletic. The kind of kid that can jump out of the gym. He's a quality young man."

He's still growing and has plenty of room on his now-lanky frame to get bigger. Reportedly, Bama's coaches are recruiting him as a wide receiver/cornerback/strong safety athlete.

Word at McDaniel's high school game last night was that he had decided to go ahead and commit to Alabama. spoke briefly this morning with both McDaniel and his high school coach to confirm.

Last season McDaniel gained more than 700 yards rushing, despite playing most of the year with a broken bone in his hand.

Aaron McDaniel was an interested observer at last summer's Alabama mini-camp.

Qualifying concerns, coupled with a more highly-publicized teammate (Marcus Carter), have prevented McDaniel from receiving the attention he deserves. He chose Alabama over Southern Miss, but several other programs were waiting to see how he progressed academically before offering.

Sources familiar with McDaniel's situation say that he has already passed his high school exit exam and is close to finishing the required core classes. However, he hasn't yet taken the ACT.

Carter is currently committed to Auburn, but the Tide coaches think they still have a chance to sway him Bama's way. However, McDaniel's commitment should not be seen as a recruiting ploy. In fact, several Fort Payne coaches say privately that McDaniel has a better long-term future in college than his better-known teammate.

Both McDaniel and Carter attended Alabama's summer mini-camp, though they didn't participate. The two were on hand to watch the action and, more importantly, meet personally with Head Coach Mike Shula and the new Tide staff.

McDaniel comes from a family of athletes. Two brothers played football on the junior-college level, while his oldest brother spent time on the Seattle Seahawk's practice squad.

Those familiar with McDaniel's background, predict he'll flourish once he gets to college and can take advantage of the weight room--not to mention a collegiate training table.

RECRUITING NOTE: Due to NCAA sanctions, Alabama is limited to only 19 new scholarships in 2004. However, it's virtually certain that the Tide coaches intend to over-sign, with the assumption that a few members of the class will begin their college careers in junior college.

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