Life after Manson?

With Aaron Johns and Titus Ryan, two of the most dynamic offensive players in the state, already in the fold, Alabama is looking to add at least one more running back to this year's class.

While Alabama will definitely continue recruiting him, the recent announcement by Markus Manson that he intends to sign with Florida disrupted things a bit. But the Tide coaches remain confident that they will be able to recruit another top running back to go along with Aaron Johns and Titus Ryan.

With Alabama's total number of new scholarshipped players limited to just 19, the key is versatility. And both Johns and Ryan exemplify the point.

Aaron Johns, pictured at Alabama's mini-camp this past summer, was an early commitment to the Tide.

Originally recruited by Mike Price's staff to play slotback, Johns could project at any of three positions in college: scatback, slotback or cornerback. Johns is listed at 5-10, 187 pounds and claims a 4.4 clocking in the 40-yard dash. As he points out, those numbers would better Shaud Williams, Bama's current starting tailback, in every category.

More than a few Tide fans wondered about the commitment before this season began, but Johns has torn it up all season and won over the doubters.

Ryan of course originally signed with the Tide as part of the 2002 class, but he failed to qualify and is now enrolled at East Mississippi Community College. A track star before he took up football in his junior year of high school, Ryan has legitimate sprinter speed. The only real question is whether he'll start off at tailback or wide receiver. In first high school and now junior college, Ryan has spent more time carrying the football. But obviously his combination of height and speed indicated excellent potential as a wideout as well.

Besides Ryan and Johns, Alabama is expected to sign at least one more running back. Though that number can be misleading, since several of the athletes being recruited can play more than one position.

Darius Walker is probably the highest-profile back being linked to the Tide. 5-11, 205, the Buford, Georgia native is being recruited by most of the top colleges around the nation. At this point Walker does not list Bama among his top three, but he did take an earlier unofficial visit to Tuscaloosa, and Walker's high school coach, Dexter Wood, played tight end for Alabama in the 70s.

With Manson committed to Florida and Walker a longshot, the spotlight moves to Lavarus Giles (6-1, 205). An excellent athlete but raw as a football player, Giles is definitely an intriguing prospect. He's relative tall and extremely fast. The Benoit, Mississippi native only started playing football as a junior. He won his state's 100-meter dash championship as a junior and placed second in the 200-. With those credentials, his 4.45 clocking in the 40-yard dash could well be legitimate.

Like Titus Ryan, Lavarus Giles is a track star who took up football relatively late.

At this point Alabama and Mississippi State are the only two schools that have offered Giles, but several other major programs are watching him closely. Giles has said he's also considering Oklahoma and Tennessee.

Alabama had him in last summer for their mini-camp, so the Tide staff knows exactly what Giles has to offer physically. Giles is also believed to have college potential at safety. In part, it's that athletic versatility that has Bama interested.

Dennis Void (5-11, 205) is scheduled to attend the LSU game this weekend on an official visit. In spite of what Void has told recruiting reporters, it's unlikely that the Tide has given him an official, unconditional offer yet. However, the Bama coaches would not expend an official visit unless they were definitely interested. Void is probably not as fast as some of the numbers listed by his name, but he does combine power and good speed.

A native of the Bronx, New York, Void's main problem is that he's not yet fully qualified. After graduating high school, Void spent one season in prep school to work on his academic status. He is no longer enrolled, and says he lacks "just 10 points" on the SAT. However, with only limited scholarships to give Alabama will need to be certain that it brings in its full complement of 19 new players this fall.

Without question, Void's official visit will be extremely important in regard to his possible inclusion in this year's class.

Garden City Junior College back Andre Hall's name has gotten some mention. At 5-9, 200 pounds, Hall is a shifty runner with the ability to gain yardage in between the tackles as well. He claims a 4.4 clocking in the 40-yard dash. However, thanks to the relatively new "Mississippi State rule," Hall may not be able to sign with any SEC school.

Hall spent one season at Georgia Military Academy, a prep school, before enrolling at Garden City. If he was eligible before he entered junior college, then he could sign with an SEC school and play right away. But if he was not eligible coming out of prep school, then by league rule he must be enrolled at Garden City for three consecutive semesters before he could sign with an SEC school.

Still blisteringly fast, Titus Ryan will resign with Alabama.

Homewood's Brandon Thornton (5-10, 185, 4.62) has enjoyed an excellent senior season. Some fans even rate him the best back in the state. No doubt he's a good football player, but he probably lacks that burst of speed that Bama's coaches are looking for in a tailback.

Likewise, Parrish High School's Tony Dixon is also having a very good year. He was an early commitment to Kentucky, and many Tide fans have wondered why he seems to be cool toward their school. The answer almost certainly lies in the fact that Alabama has not offered Dixon a scholarship. He's listed at 5-10, 180, but those that have seen him in person wonder if he'd be physical enough to warrant an offer.

Early on the Tide showed some interest in C.J. Barrows of Powder Springs, Georgia, but that interest appears to have cooled. Madison's Max Martin (6-1, 210) remains a top recruit, but he appears determined to play out of state.

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