Alabama recruiting notebook

With Alabama's big blowout official visit weekend still two days away, it's a good time to pass along some items from the recruiting notebook.

What about Wide Receivers?

With qualifying concerns continuing for at least two of Bama's best receiver commitments, the Tide coaches are rightly looking to build some academic insurance by adding at least one and maybe two more wideouts to the 2004 class.

Junior college standout Larry Kendrick was probably at the top of Bama's list this time last week, but recruiting changes day-to-day and sometimes hour-to-hour. No one has rescinded Kendrick's scholarship offer, but the Tide coaches are now targeting Keith Brown and Adrian Smith. Like Lavarus Giles, Brown first made his name as a track star, but he also excels on the football field. All things being equal, Florida would be hard to beat out for Brown's signature, but all things may not be equal, giving the Tide more than a good chance at the talented player.

Tailback Markus Manson (#6) and cornerback Travis Robinson (#24, committed to Alabama) wait their turn in warm-ups.

Few fans know much about Adrian Smith, but Paul Randolph (who is good friends with Smith's high school coach) likes him a lot. Smith (6-1, 190, 4.5) runs well and knows how to put his height to good use. On balls thrown over the middle, Smith is rarely out-jumped or out-fought for the reception.

Athletically, the Tide would be happy with either player.

Tailback?

Obviously Markus Manson remains the top target at this position. So long as other factors don't interfere (like a blue-chip defensive lineman unexpectedly committing), it's now thought possible that Alabama will give Manson more leeway than most fans might like. But in that regard, the Tide coaches have done a good job building maneuvering room for themselves with some conditional grayshirt offers.

NOTE: Lavarus Giles would obviously be a good signee at running back, but the Benoit, Mississippi native could just as easily project at either safety or even wide receiver.

Room for the Gandy Man?

Steve Gandy visits the Tide campus this weekend, and the battle for his signature appears to be wide open. When talking to Ole Miss writers, he says a lot of very good things about the Rebels and staying in state. But he's positive when talking to Auburn writers as well.

Steve Gandy is a fast athlete who could project at either safety or outside linebacker. (photo courtesy of AuTiger.com)

Gandy has told the Tide coaches that he's very interested in Alabama, and there's no reason to think he's leading anyone on. The problem is, will the Tide have room in its class if Gandy decides to commit?

This one could come down to timing. If Gandy is ready to make a decision soon, then there will have to be some tough decisions made on who to take and who to let go.

But on the other hand, if Gandy wants to wait until much later in the process, then in terms of Alabama at least, his decision may have been already made for him.

Chester We Hardly Knew Ya

Surprising most, Luverne offensive line prospect Chester Adams committed to sign with Georgia yesterday, hurting some Tide fans' feelings and dealing another body blow to Auburn's hopes of getting any in-state talent at all to play on the plains.

Part of the confusion frankly rose out of the fact that Luverene coach Mike DuBose enforced a policy of not letting Adams talk to any recruiting writers. He did allow the Montgomery Advertiser's Tim Gayle to do two very informative stories, but DuBose apparently makes a distinction between newspaper and recruiting writers.

It's an obvious point, but still true. DuBose has had a "bad experience" with at least one self-proclaimed recruiting guru in the past and seems now determined to lock the barn door--whether the horses are still around or not.

Whether or not it's good for a high school coach to shield a senior recruit from recruiting writers is a point that can be argued both ways. Certainly the phone calls can get tiresome quickly. But on the other hand the last time I checked Bulldog Coach Mark Richt didn't enforce a no-press policy on his incoming freshmen. Are many 18-year-olds unprepared to talk with the media? Of course.

But then again so are some 50-year-old coaches.

There has been a lot of talk about whether or not DuBose hurt Alabama by steering Adams to Georgia and into the arms of his friend and former offensive coordinator Neil Callaway. At this point, it's essentially all speculation. Adams says DuBose stayed out of his decision. Other sources say DuBose didn't exactly make it easy for college coaches to contact his star player.

Adams blocks. (photo by Mickey Welsh courtesy of the Montgomery Advertiser)

On its face, I can logically see how Adams would choose Georgia over Alabama, especially if the Tide had yet to offer a scholarship without any strings attached. But it also seems logical that a responsible head coach dealing with a young man that on more than one occasion has stated that he was a fan of in-state Alabama, would at least urge his protege' to take all his official visits before jumping to any conclusions.

Whence Damien?

The on-again, off-again football career of Damien Jones appears once again headed in a positive direction. As Tide fans know, Jones was a stellar athlete at Vigor High School who signed with Alabama in 1998. However he was also an excellent baseball player, and when the Atlanta Braves offered Jones accepted. Since that time he's played in the Minor Leagues.

Jones recently decided to return to the state, enroll at Alabama and pursue college football. The problem was eligibility. Basically, if an ineligible athlete enrolls at a Division 1A school, then he puts his future eligibility in jeopardy--even if he becomes eligible between the time he enrolls and the first game.

As we reported, Jones did officially enroll at Alabama earlier this week. As he awaits confirmation on his eligibility from the NCAA, Jones's status as a college student is on hold, but Tide officials are optimistic the situation will resolve in his favor. Depending on how quickly things move forward, Jones could take classes this term and thus be eligible to participate in spring drills. But that timing is out of his hands and temporarily at least, remains unresolved.


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