Guyton garners attention

After promising to keep a close watch on his progress during the season, Alabama's coaches have followed up and have liked what they've seen from Kris Guyton.

Overshadowed on the Hillcrest High School squad this year by the presence of blue-chip recruits Markus Manson (tailback), Cody Davis (offensive tackle) and Travis Robinson (cornerback), Kris Guyton almost certainly hasn't received the publicity he deserves. But the relative lack of attention doesn't bother him.

"I don't feel like I'm overshadowed at all," Guyton told following his team's recent win over Wenonah High School. "I go out and play. They go out and play. That's all."

Tall with long arms, Guyton has the broad shoulders of a linebacker.

Hillcrest Head Coach Bart Harper credits Guyton as one of his defensive leaders. "He's a big, big player for us on defense," Harper said. "Kris is a great player that has really learned the linebacker position. He runs down hill real well."

Tall with broad shoulders, on the football field Guyton always seems to be up on the balls of his feet, itching to move forward. Depending on where you read, Guyton is listed at either 6-2 or 6-3, weighing in the 210-pound range. He's at least 6-2. Still growing, Guyton has an almost lanky frame now but should easily add bulk as he matures.

Especially intriguing for college recruiters, if Guyton adds an inch or two without losing any speed then he could develop into an ideal defensive end. "He could change positions easy," Coach Harper said. "Kris can carry 20-30 more pounds. He works hard in the weight room. His work habits are great.

"He has all the tools and all the habits of being a good football player for somebody."

During the game we watched, Guyton was very active, constantly bouncing around looking to plug the hole on defense. He squares his shoulders well before making the tackle. He's very agile with good feet. Guyton showed good lateral movement and the ability to run down the play, burying the ball carrier when he arrived.

A relatively recent "convert" to the sport, Guyton will only get better as he adjusts to the game. "He's only been playing football for 2 ½ years, so he's got a lot of football ahead of him," Harper related. "He's playing well for us. I think he's going to be big-time."

Guyton poses for a photo after the game. In his words, "If Alabama offers they'll be hard to beat."

A good student, Guyton carries a B+ average in the classroom and scored 18 on his first attempt at the ACT. Following his team's win last Friday, he showed he already has the sports-quote deal down. "The game was like all the rest of them," Guyton said. "We had to go out and play hard to get the victory. I give credit to my coaches and my defensive linemen and my other linebackers and the players in the deep secondary for helping me out."

Guyton said that though Alabama hasn't yet offered him a scholarship, the Tide coaches are staying in close contact. "They're looking at me closely, real close," Guyton said. "They're looking at game film, that kind of thing. Coach Sparky Woods is talking to me. He's a good guy. I love that guy."

Obviously Guyton has potential as a linebacker, but for now he's just hearing "defense" from the Tide coaches.

"I'm not sure exactly where they want me to play," Guyton said. "I guess linebacker, maybe on the outside. I like to play on the inside better, because I like to see the whole field. But if I have to play somewhere else, I'll play there."

Guyton listed the schools he's looking at. "Alabama, Mississippi, Southern Miss, Auburn and Jacksonville State, which has offered me a scholarship, are all recruiting me. Mississippi State and Northwestern are a couple of more."

It's unusual for one high school team to sport so many Division 1-caliber athletes, but this year's Hillcrest squad is the exception. Alabama has already offered Manson, Davis and Robinson scholarships and continues to recruit the talented trio hard.

Asked to name a leader, Guyton demonstrated loyalty to the school that has offered already. But clearly he likes the Tide.

A middle linebacker at Hillcrest, Guyton could play outside or even "grow" into a defensive end.

"I'd have to say Jacksonville State, because they offered me a scholarship," Guyton replied. "After that, it'd be Alabama and Mississippi State. I've been to plenty of Alabama games this year.

"If Alabama offers me, they'll be pretty tough to beat."

RECRUITING NOTES: Alabama is only expected to sign one or two linebackers this year, with Curtis Dawson in the lead for one spot. But both Dawson (defensive tackle) and Guyton (defensive end) hold the potential of playing more than one position, which is important to a school like Alabama, which is still weathering probation.

Alabama is in on several other high-profile linebackers like Steve Gandy and Tony Bell, but an offer to Guyton could well come before the recruiting season is over.

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