Recruiting Diary, 14th & 15th

Anyone that doubts what I've been telling our readers for weeks now, that college recruiting is an incredibly fluid situation, need only go back and read my Recruiting Diary from only two days ago. Since Monday morning at 10 am, two more athletes have gone public with their intention to play football for Alabama. And more could come soon.

As expected, Marcel Stamps released his commitment to sign with Alabama on February 4. The Brantley native is the first player to sign a football scholarship with The University of Alabama. Seen as a versatile athlete capable of playing offense or defense, Stamps projects as a tall (6-3, 190), physical wide receiver. Stamps has a few points to make up on his standardized test score, and it's possible that he was asked to be a "grayshirt" by the Tide coaches. In such a case if qualifying news is good among other Tide commitments, Stamps might delay his entry into college until January of 2005.

Later in the week a legacy athlete revealed that he was going to attend Alabama and play football. Jake Wingo, the son of former Tide linebacker and strength coach Rich Wingo, played safety for Hillcrest High School this past year. He definitely projects as a contributor on special teams, and it's possible that with some help from Mother Nature (and work in the weight room) that he could end up seeing action on defense as well.

Marcel Stamps is Bama's 23rd member of the '04 class.

Wingo's actual status in the class is unclear, but it's unlikely that he would be counted among Bama's 19 new scholarshipped athletes that will report this fall. On the other hand, Wingo has said he intends to enroll in August and probably redshirt his first year. Therefore it's probable that he will begin his Tide career as a walk-on.

Another interesting development involves a former Tide signee from way back in the 1998 recruiting class. Damien Jones, then listed at 5-10 and 185 pounds, was seen as one of the most talented athletes in the state. But frankly his signing didn't generate much excitement among recruiting insiders, because everyone knew that he wouldn't be eligible--and besides, his immediate future (at the time) lay in Minor League Baseball.

After spending time in the Atlanta Braves organization, Jones decided that he wanted to give college football a try. And he was adamant that Alabama was where he wanted to be. Qualifying questions are the only downside to this one. Those that remember him from high school and have followed his baseball career, predict he can make an immediate impact at wide receiver, which of course is a definite "need position" for the Tide. But it's important that Jones handle the situation carefully, so as not to risk losing any precious years of eligibility.

Jake Wingo will carry on the family legacy at Alabama.

According to a source close to the football team, Jones was formally admitted to The University Monday. Now the "action" moves to communication back and forth with the NCAA. Interestingly, the qualifying rules have changed in Jones' favor since 1998. Now a sliding scale is used regarding ACT scores and GPA. Back in '98 his 17 on the ACT wasn't good enough, but now it may be. It'll depend on a positive ruling by the NCAA, but sources close to the situation are hopeful.

If Jones can become eligible, he would be the third former pro baseball player on the team, joining quarterback Mike Machen and receiver Scoop McDowell. And best of all, he would be "free" as far as scholarships go, not counting against the Tide's overall limit nor against this year's initial counters.

Several recruiting names linked to Alabama have made recent news. Coalmont, Tennessee defensive lineman K.T. Mainard took an official visit to South Carolina last weekend, during which he was shown an "enhanced" Alabama depth chart, apparently listing everyone but Coach Shula himself at the position. At first he was confused, but after speaking with Bama's coaches he understands what the Gamecock coaches were trying to do. He's again saying very good things about Alabama. Mainard is scheduled to visit this weekend, and it would surprise no one if he committed quickly.

Junior college linebacker Terrance Smith, who took an official visit to Alabama last December, committed to Texas A&M. Bama liked Smith, and he seemed to like the Tide. But there are serious questions regarding his eligibility, questions which his JUCO coaches' less-than-definite comments did nothing to dispel.

Safety/Linebacker Steve Gandy

Blue-chip tailback Darius Walker out of Georgia seems to be having a grand old time playing the recruiting game. After visiting Stanford recently, he's now talking about setting up visits with a veritable "Who's Who" of modern college football. He also supposedly mentioned Alabama as a possibility for his fifth visit, but this is a "I'll believe it when I see it" situation for the Tide.

Line prospect Micah Howeth of Dallas, Texas, who has had some very nice things to say about Alabama throughout the recruiting process, took a visit last weekend to Oregon. He says he's going to also visit Kansas, Kansas State and then Alabama. Grades are a concern, and if he ends up signing with the Tide it will probably be as a "sign and place."

Long-time commitment Justin Britt visits this weekend.

Elite linebacker/safety prospect Steve Gandy of Waynesboro, Mississippi continues to list Alabama among his leaders. He took an official visit to Auburn last weekend (where many pundits think he'll end up) and is scheduled to visit the Tide this weekend. There is no question that Bama's coaches love his athleticism. But unless he's prepared to commit quickly all of the Tide's slots will probably be gone. In a normal year, additional scholarships would probably give Alabama the flexibility to wait on quality recruits like Gandy, but 2004 is not a normal year for the Tide.

The actual list will almost certainly change between now and Friday afternoon, but right now 21 athletes are scheduled to take official visits to Alabama this weekend, five uncommitted and 16 committed. Justin Britt, Marcus Carter, Antoine Caldwell, Trent Davidson, Aaron Johns, Ezekiel Knight, K.T. Mainard, Aaron McDaniel, B.J. Stabler, Nick Walker, Nikita Stover, Jeramie Holifield, John Parker Wilson, Curtis Dawson, Will Oakley and Simeon Castille have all pledged to sign with Alabama and will be on hand this weekend.

Lavarus Giles

Several key Tide targets still "at large" will also be in the group, including offensive lineman Chester Adams, receiver Keith Brown, linebacker Steve Gandy, lineman Jeremy Jones and athlete Lavarus Giles.

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. K.T. Mainard, DL, No longer confused, ready to commit?
  2. Lavarus Giles, TB/Ath, Versatile athlete could join class soon
  3. Keith Brown, Bama needs at least one more receiver
  4. Chester Adams, OL/DL, Holding out for a completely unconditional offer?
  5. Jeremy Jones, DL/OL/TE, Ultimate sleeper recruit, excellent upside for a lineman

Alabama currently has 23 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,
Brantley wide receiver Marcel Stamps,
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

RBAndre HallSchedules Two Visits
STrell KimmonsNational record broken
DEK.T. MainardReady for a Decision?
LBTerrence SmithNW Miss. DC Talks Prospects
LBJake WingoHeaded to Bama
LBSteve GandyAlabama is up next for MS LB
DEMicah HowethTexas DL is Trippin'
LBTerrence SmithTexas A&M Lands Standout LB

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WRNRMarcel Stamps (Brantley HS)6-3/190/- 

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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 25-26 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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