Lineman weighing options

Though not all are talking about it publicly, there will be a couple of Tide recruits this season that could end up as a so-called "grayshirts." Sparta's Drew Davis has acknowledged the possibility.

With Alabama limited to a maximum of only 19 new scholarshipped players this fall, the Tide simply cannot afford not to bring in a full class. But complicating the process, several key Bama recruits are facing an uncertain academic future.

As a hedge against the possibility of bad qualifying news next fall, Alabama is expected to "sign" two or three athletes this February who will agree in advance to delay entry into The University until January of 2005, if necessary.

A tall lineman with a wide wingspan and solid athleticism, Drew Davis is probably the ideal candidate for this arrangement. Like most O-Line prospects, he'll need at least a year in a college weight room to mature, strengthen and toughen up for SEC play. If he were to put off enrolling in college until January of 2005, he'd count against Alabama's '05 numbers (which will be sanction-free) and also be able to work out with the team that winter, taking part in spring drills.

Beginning in the fall of 2005, he'd still have five years to play four seasons of college football.

Davis says he's an Alabama fan, but he's also being courted by Mississippi State and Auburn.

Is he close to a decision at this point?

"No, not really," Davis told in a recent interview. "I will wait until after my official visits to make a decision."

Davis says he's scheduled to trip to Tuscaloosa on January 9, to Auburn on the 16th and Starkville on the 24th.

But before Tide fans get too antsy about the situation, Davis had a clear answer when asked if he had a leader.

"Alabama," was his firm reply.

Playing for small Sparta Academy in Greenville, Davis hasn't had the chance to compete against top-flight competition and garner publicity like other better-known recruits. He was a two-way lineman for Sparta in football, and Davis also competes in basketball and baseball.

Davis took several unofficial visits to Alabama this past season to view home football games. (Barry Fikes photo)

Besides being a Tide fan, Davis has other reasons for liking Alabama.

"I want to stay in-state," he explained. "I like the coaches and players (at Alabama) and I have a lot of friends that go there."

Mississippi State under new head coach Sylvester Croom has been talking to Davis as well. Reportedly, they'd like him as a regular signee, reporting in the fall. Davis said that he received an in-home visit from Bulldog Coach Grimes last week.

"I really like the coaches (at MSU)," Davis said. "I like what all is happening there."

Auburn has also gotten in on Davis recently, though there are conflicting reports on whether or not they have offered a scholarship.

"I like their line coach there (Hugh Nall) and it is an in-state school," Davis said of the Tigers.

Despite his proposed "grayshirt" status, Alabama's coaches are working hard to convince Davis to settle on the Tide. Both Head Coach Mike Shula and Offensive Line Coach Bobby Connelly visited in the Davis home recently.

"Coach Shula and Coach Connelly came last week," Davis related. "They talked about the scholarship they have offered me and the great opportunity I would have to play."

If Davis is comfortable with Bama's situation, then it's possible that he could commit on, before or just after his official visit to the Tide campus, then canceling his remaining trips.

RECRUITING NOTES: Alabama is allowed to bring in 19 new scholarshipped players this fall. The Tide is expected to sign as many as 22 to 24 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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