Sleeper O-Line prospect gets conditional offer

Alabama's absolute necessity to not just sign but also bring in 19 qualified athletes next fall is background behind its recent scholarship offer to offensive lineman Drew Davis.

Viewed by most as a good athlete with excellent upside, Davis had been watched by the Tide coaches for months but was only recently offered a scholarship.

"Who wouldn't be excited about getting an offer from Alabama," Davis told in a recent interview. "Right now recruiting is going good. I'm very excited (about the Alabama offer)."

Drew Davis (6-6, 280, 5.5) is an intriguing prospect. Competing for tiny Sparta Academy in Evergreen, Alabama, the big man frankly has had little chance to show off his athletic skills against quality competition. All scouts have had to go on is his obvious size (excellent for an offensive lineman) and athleticism.

In addition to starring for its football team, Davis also plays both basketball and baseball for Sparta Academy.

Tide offensive line coach Bobby Connelly called Davis two weeks ago to confirm Bama's so-called "grayshirt" offer. At first Davis requested that we not reveal that detail, but this week he changed his mind and went public.

As a "grayshirt," Davis would initially be a part of this year's recruiting class. However, depending on how qualifying questions work out with other recruits, it's possible that Davis would delay his entry into The University until January of 2005, at which point his scholarship would count against Bama's '05 numbers. Such an action would give Davis extra months to add strength and bulk in preparation for the jump from small-school prep football to the SEC. He would be able to participate in spring practice in 2005, and beginning with the fall of '05 he would have the normal five years to play four.

Should a larger than expected number of signees in this year's class not become eligible, Davis would report in the fall of '04.

Davis is proud of his Alabama offer, but Bama isn't his only option. "Mississippi State, Louisville, Southern Miss, Middle Tennessee State and Troy State have all offered," he said.

Asked to name a favorite, Davis listed Alabama and Mississippi State.

Not surprisingly given his size, Davis says most schools have him slotted at O-Tackle.

"Offensive line, that's where most of the coaches say I'll play," he related. "Some, like Southern Miss, think maybe the defensive line."

With family and friends anxious to watch as many games as possible, geography is always a factor in recruiting. Plus, Davis is an Alabama youngster.

"Ideally, I would rather stay in state," Davis said.

During the recent regular season, Davis took several unofficial visits to Crimson Tide games. "I went to the Alabama/LSU game among others," Davis said. "I was able to talk to all the coaches before and after the games. That helped."

Coach Connelly has led the way in recruiting Davis.

"I talk to Coach Connelly before and after the games," Davis related. "I really like him.

"He says he wants me to continue to get stronger and faster. He wants to make sure that I continue lifting weights."

Lately the Mississippi State coaches have been talking to Davis about signing and reporting immediately, which has prompted him to hedge his bets somewhat. But if the Tide could promise he'd be a part of this year's class then his decision would probably come quickly.

"The visits to Alabama went great," he said. "I really like the atmosphere (at Bryant-Denny Stadium)."

Line Coach Bobby Connelly has been the lead recruiter for Alabama with Davis.

At this point in the recruiting process, official visits are the name of the game. Each athlete is allowed a maximum of five.

"I have official visits set up to Alabama (1/9), Louisville (1/16), Troy State (1/23), and Southern Miss (12/19)," Davis related. "Mississippi State will work in there somewhere."

Asked if he had a specific timetable in mind for making his decision, Davis replied, "Not really. I will probably take those official visits and then decide."

RECRUITING NOTES: Davis is rated a two-star prospect by network, mainly because the network scouts have not seen him either in person or on tape.

Clearly the Tide coaches see long-term potential in Davis, but his status in the 2004 class would be as a hedge against possible academic problems. It remains to be seen how interested Mississippi State actually is, and if they do come through with a firm scholarship offer whether Davis will choose the Bulldogs now over Bama a year in the future.

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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