Scouting Travis McCall

Just because a football player doesn't finish a game with his name all over the stat sheet, does not mean that he's not a quality athlete. <br><br>So it's been for Travis McCall this season.

Still considered a prime recruiting target by Alabama, Travis McCall (6-2, 235, 4.75) hardly had his name called at all during the playoff game we scouted between Prattville High School and Baldwin County. But Coach Bill Clark knows what wins on the high school level, and McCall best suited his needs by blocking virtually the entire game from his tight end position.

For the most part the nearest McCall got to the ball all night was on the frequent occasions when Prattville ball carriers would follow his block around end. It's certainly hard to argue with the offensive strategy. Prattville won that game 29-0 in dominating fashion.

"We're a running team," McCall explained afterwards. "Most nights we didn't need to throw the ball. My coach used me almost exclusively as a blocker, but that wasn't a problem. Not at all."

Travis McCall showed his pass-catching skills during warm-ups.

Before the game the Prattville native showed soft hands, catching passes during warm-ups. But once the contest started McCall was only "allowed" to run pass patterns on maybe three or four plays during the game. And even then, the football never came close to him even once.

Wouldn't he like to catch just one or two passes?

"It really doesn't matter," McCall said.

One reason McCall is attractive to college coaches is his versatility. At one time or another in his high school career he's played linebacker, defensive end, fullback and of course tight end. Scouts say that depending on how his body matures, he could play any of those four positions in college.

Which does he prefer?

"It doesn't matter to me," McCall answered again with a smile.

During the game I watched McCall showed impressive physical skills. Moving with the easy grace of an athlete, he ran well with smooth strides.

McCall's arms are relatively long, which caused me to misjudge his height from the sideline. But when speaking to him after the game, standing in front of him I gauged his height to be a legitimate 6-2, possibly a little more.

Used almost exclusively as a blocking tight end, McCall is an aggressive athlete.

He's got broad shoulders and appears almost thin in the face. Clearly McCall can easily add bulk and strength with a college weight-training program.

"I'm 6-2," McCall said. "And I finished the season at about 235 pounds. I could carry 240-250 pounds easy."

Scouts are impressed by McCall's flexibility, aggressiveness and good character. Off the field it's hard to get Travis to say more than two sentences at a time. But between the sidelines he gets after it. Once his first block is made, McCall repeatedly moved into the secondary, looking for someone else to hit.

McCall commented on the recruiting process. "I've been playing football since seventh grade. I'll admit I never thought then that all these schools would be after me. It's interesting.

"I'm hearing from a lot of different schools. Recruiting has gone pretty well. I tried to concentrate on the season so long as we were in the playoffs. You get calls all the time."

Shy by nature, McCall wasn't particularly thrilled to be interviewed by a gray-beard writer. But he enjoys talking with the college recruiters.

"Recruiting gets a little old sometimes, but not that much," he said. "I like it, really. I don't mind the coaches calling, it's just the other folks."

McCall's decision is expected to come down to his two in-state schools, but he also lists Ole Miss, Clemson and Louisville as programs he's looking at. "I feel pretty good about things right now," he said.

Teammate Kevin Hamilton, a 6-3, 255-pound defensive lineman is also being targeted by both Alabama and Auburn. It would surprise no one if the two ended up signing with the same school, and the Tide is in good shape with both, especially in light of the recent problems at Auburn.

"Coach Paul Randolph is recruiting me for Alabama," McCall said. "He's telling me I could play either defensive end, linebacker or tight end."

Depending on how his body matures, McCall could end up playing any of several positions in college.

McCall has an official visit to Alabama set for January 23.

RECRUITING NOTES: Alabama already has commitments from tight ends Trent Davidson and Nick Walker. Like McCall, Davidson could project at more than one position in college. Essentially, the Tide coaches would just like to get McCall on campus. After a year in the weight room and at a college training table, they're confident he'll find a position on the squad.

Alabama is allowed to bring in 19 new scholarshipped players this fall. The Tide is expected to sign as many as 22 players in February, anticipating that several will not become qualified. It's also possible that one or more players may be asked to delay entry into The University until the following January, counting against 2005 scholarship numbers, depending on how qualifying issues play out.

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