Recruiting Diary, 1-12

With one more defensive lineman added to the 2004 class, Alabama's recruiting momentum continued through the weekend. Brandon Fanney brings to 22 the number of Bama's committed recruits, and the Tide isn't done yet.

Fast enough for defensive end but with the frame to get bigger and move down inside, Fanney is a solid addition to the commitment list. He chose the Tide over Virginia Tech and Virginia, two excellent programs. He weighs 260 now, but Fanney has the height and broad shoulders to easily bulk up to the 290 range.

In a front-page story Sunday, Fanney told that a possible "grayshirt" had been discussed with him by the Tide coaches. That would give Alabama more maneuvering room as it continues to pursue several blue-chip prospects, not to mention providing some academic insurance in regard to several of the recruits that will be close in qualifying.

Fanney is Bama's 22nd public commitment.

Along with Fanney, Drew Davis, Lorenzo Washington, Demonte Bolden, Marcel Stamps and Larry Kendrick were also on hand in Tuscaloosa for an official visit. Davis, of course, is already committed and is also a possible grayshirt.

Maybe Bama's top target still on the board, Washington enjoyed the visit very much. According to him, unless his visit to Georgia (scheduled next weekend) matches the one to Tuscaloosa, he'll commit to the Tide. That was music to Bama fans' collective ears, but Alabama still faces a tough fight with the in-state Bulldogs for Washington's signature.

He has apparently developed a real friendship with Tide Coach Paul Randolph, but Washington has also made clear he wants to play for a winning program. Geography and recent SEC history will play in Georgia's favor, but Washington will have a hard time saying "No," to Bama's tradition and Randolph.

Bolden's decision to take official visits, contrary to the wishes of Tennessee where he is publicly committed, was news last Friday. He seemed to enjoy Tuscaloosa fine, but that does not mean anyone should assume he's ready to rescind his verbal to the Vols. In fact, one logical explanation is that the blue-chip lineman simply wants a chance to enjoy the recruiting process. He now says he wants to visit Florida along with Auburn and Tennessee.

There were rumors that Marcel Stamps committed to the Tide coaches but wanted to delay his announcement until he spoke with his parents and called other coaches. If they're true, then he's managed to keep his secret up until now. Either way, there is little doubt that he likes Alabama a lot. The sticking point may be that Alabama is asking him to be a conditional grayshirt, depending on how qualifying issues play out. Obviously offers with no strings attached are more desirable than otherwise. But Stamps remains at the top of our "Hot List."

Wide receiver Marcel Stamps clearly enjoyed his visit to Alabama.

Pearl River Community College's Larry Kendrick is clearly determined to enjoy the recruiting process. Alabama would like to sign him. If he agreed, then Kendrick would have a more than even chance at playing time immediately. But the Tide's class is almost full, and other talented receivers are on the line.

In a different year, Alabama would be able to hold a couple of spots open until National Signing Day, in hopes of reeling in a few "big fish" that insist on waiting until the end to make their decision. But this is not a normal year for Alabama. They need a decision quickly, and frankly Kendrick says he's not ready to make one.

The Haines City, Florida native says he's still going to visit Texas A&M, Ole Miss and maybe even USC, Texas and UCLA. Clearly he's enamored of the attention, which is fine. But setting up late visits to big-time programs virtually always signal a "fall back" deal. Hopefully it'll work out for Kendrick, but the hard realities of recruiting mean that sometimes things don't go as planned.

Several other athletes tied to Alabama took official visits this past weekend to other schools. Tide cornerback commitment Travis Robinson went to Clemson, along with teammate Jake Wingo. Contrary to an "excited" Clemson writer, Robinson remains firm for Bama. Wingo, on the other hand, is faced with a tough decision. Apparently Clemson and assistant coach Dabo Swinney have a scholarship for him. But Jake's family ties to Alabama run deep. Father Rich Wingo played linebacker and was a strength coach at the Capstone. But at this point, Alabama does not have a scholarship. Turning down a scholarship to a major program to walk on at another is a tough decision to make.

Blue-chip defensive end prospect Brandon Miller tripped to Florida State with his mother. She said afterwards that she would not go with him on his next two trips, but would go with him to Georgia. For Bama worrywarts, that's not good news. Miller will visit Alabama the 23rd (sans mom) and then will go to Athens the following week with family in tow. The Tide is still in it, but early talk of Florida State and Georgia being Miller's leaders would seem to be accurate.

Manson is rapidly approaching the proverbial "fish or cut bait" time.

Like Fanney, K.T. Mainard is a native of Tennessee and projects as a defensive lineman in college. And also like Fanney, the Tide coaches are recruiting him hard. Before Friday he had listed Alabama No. 1, but after listening to Lou Holtz's entreaties in South Carolina this weekend he says he's wondering. Holtz apparently showed Mainard a supposed Bama depth chart, listing every walk-on and trainer he could find on the defensive line. That's part of the way the game is played.

Mainard will be in Tuscaloosa this weekend, which will give the Tide coaches plenty of time to set the record straight. With Alabama still looking to sign at least two more D-Linemen, Mainard's name remains prominent.

Lavarus Giles, a tailback target for the Tide out of Mississippi, took an official visit to Mississippi State this past weekend. He said nice things about the visit, but hardly sounded like a player ready to commit. If the Tide coaches get the feeling that Markus Manson won't turn, then look for a hard-and-fast push for Giles. Expect one or the other to take an official visit to Tuscaloosa this weekend, possibly signaling which way that one is headed.

Two Opelika athletes linked at one time or another to Alabama were on the road this weekend visiting Clemson. Jacquez McKissic, a D-Line prospect that Bama had been talking to in recent weeks, said he loved the visit and will make his decision after visiting Auburn next week. Reading between the lines, Alabama has backed off; if AU commits, McKissic goes there. Otherwise, he's Clemson-bound with his teammate Adrian Kindred. Linked to Alabama last summer, Kindred then was supposedly heading to Auburn. This weekend he committed to Clemson, another example of Dabo Swinney's hard work.

Lavarus Giles was a track star before he took up football.

Mississippi running back Brandon Jackson had been third on Bama's running back board. After a trip to Starkville this past weekend, he now lists MSU as his leader and says he'll still visit Memphis, West Virginia and Oklahoma State.

Who's Hot? Among Recruits Still on the Board

Based on our off-the-top-of-our-head gut feeling (how's that for a mixed metaphor?), here's our periodic ranking of the Top Alabama prospects to watch. NOTE: some names make the list because we think they could commit soon.

  1. Marcel Stamps, WR, Is he already committed?
  2. Markus Manson, TB, Decision time nears
  3. Lavarus Giles, TB/Ath, Speedy tailback hardly a "fall back"
  4. Chester Adams, OL/DL, Visits Bama this week
  5. K.T. Mainord, DL, Listened to Holtz, now it's Shula's turn
  6. Jeremy Jones, DL/OL/TE, Easily the biggest "sleeper" on the board

Alabama currently has 22 public commitments, including:

Cullman two-way lineman Justin Britt,
Montgomery guard/center Antoine Caldwell,
Fort Payne safety Marcus Carter,
Briarwood Christian cornerback Simeon Castille,
T.R. Miller tight end Trent Davidson,
Hillcrest High School offensive tackle Cody Davis,
Sparta Academy offensive lineman Drew Davis,
Hoover middle linebacker/defensive lineman Curtis Dawson,
Morristown, Tennessee defensive lineman Brandon Fanney,
Prattville defensive lineman Kevin Hamilton,
Hoover defensive end Jeramie Holifield,
Thomasville defensive back Aaron Johns,
Randolph County wide receiver Ezekiel Knight,
Prattville tight end/athlete Travis McCall,
Fort Payne wide receiver Aaron McDaniel,
Jacksonville, Fla. wide receiver Will Oakley,
Hillcrest cornerback Travis Robinson,
Clarke County offensive tackle B.J. Stabler,
Hartselle wide receiver Nikita Stover,
Northwest Mississippi CC defensive end/defensive tackle Chris Turner,
Pike County tight end Nick Walker, and
Hoover quarterback John Parker Wilson.

NOTE: East Central (Miss.) Community College running back Titus Ryan committed to Alabama but subsequently withdrew from junior college, so he is not expected to be a part of this year's signing class.

Top Players Available

Brandon MillerDEMiller County (Colquitt, GA)
Lorenzo WashingtonDTGrayson (Loganville, GA)
Markus MansonRBHillcrest (Tuscaloosa, AL)
Chester AdamsOLLuvern, AL
Demonte BoldenDTChattanooga, TN
Terrence SmithLBNW Mississippi
Larry KendrickWR/DBHaines City, FL
D.J. HallWRChoctawhatchee (Ft. Walton Bch)
Steve GandyLBWayne County (Waynesboro, MS)
K.T. MainardDLGrundy County (Coalmont, TN)

Today's Recruiting Hot News

LBLavarus GilesBack from Starkville
DTDemonte BoldenBack from Bama
DEBrandon MillerMerle talks about FSU
RBBrandon JacksonMSU moves up
WRD.J. HallDid this WR commit?
LBJake WingoDown to Clemson and Bama
OLChester Adams"Shocked" by Dawgs
DEJacquez McKissicEnjoys Clemson Visit; Decision Looming
DTBrandon FanneyD-Lineman commits to Tide
OLJeremy JonesBack from Starkville
SAdrian KindredCommits to Clemson
OLDrew DavisGlad he made the decision
WRLarry KendrickTalks about Bama visit
WRMarcel StampsWaited on hand & foot
DTLorenzo WashingtonLiked Bama visit
CBTravis RobinsonVisits Clemson this Weekend

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Latest Commitment

DTNRBrandon Fanney (Morristown High West)6-5/260/4.70 

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