Recruiting Diary, Big official visit weekend

When a major program like Alabama struggles through a season like 2003, at least one good thing results. Athletes familiar with the school recognize a chance for early playing time, further increasing their inclination to play for the Crimson Tide.

Alabama's commitment total is now set at 24 (including Jake Wingo, who we firmly believe deserves to be on that list), and the Tide coaches are still actively recruiting at least 15 athletes. So while probably no more than three or four slots remain unfilled, obviously there is still plenty of action to watch.

Qualifying details are still being worked out, but Alabama may be getting ready to celebrate another piece of excellent news regarding another former Minor League Baseball player. Damien Jones, who originally signed with Alabama as a member of the 1998 recruiting class, is doing everything he can to get enrolled at The University and play football for the Tide.

Coming out of high school Jones was considered perhaps the top all-around athlete in the state. Though short for the position in college, Jones starred at quarterback for Vigor High School in Mobile. He was another extremely talented player in that '98 class, though he didn't get the publicity his skills deserved precisely because everyone knew he was going to be drafted. The Atlanta Braves selected him in the fifth round, and Jones has played Minor League baseball since. As a former pro baseball athlete, Jones would not count against any of Alabama's scholarship numbers. Jones projects as a wide receiver in college.

Lavarus Giles visits this weekend.

As we said, there are still details to be worked out between Jones and the NCAA regarding his immediate eligibility. But informed sources very close to the program are optimistic it will be resolved in his favor. The only question is whether or not Jones can get enrolled in school in time to participate in spring practice.

Since Jake Wingo announced his intention to turn down a scholarship to Clemson and instead play for the Crimson Tide, there have been no additional commitments. But several developments have occurred involving players at one time or another linked to the Tide.

Jordin and Dusty Lindsey, twin brothers and virtual twin athletes, from Mobile are facing a tough decision. Alabama fans growing up, there won't be a scholarship available for them in this year's class. They took an official visit to Lousiville last week, and the Cardinal coaches would dearly love to land the pair. But at this point the Lindsey's have not made a decision. They're scheduled to visit South Carolina this weekend, and reportedly the Gamecock coaches have offered scholarships. Clemson has also expressed interest.

Offensive lineman Danny Muy of Tallahassee, Florida, announced yesterday that he had committed to Nebraska. Muy had named the Cornhuskers and Tide as his co-leaders throughout the process. At one time many Bama fans assumed he was a prime target, but the Tide coaches never offered an unconditional scholarship, so Muy held off on committing. Reading between the lines, that's also apparently what happened earlier with Nebraska, but the new Cornhusker staff came through this week. No sour grapes. Muy is a solid pickup for Nebraska. He was probably rated higher by Bama's coaches than current commitment Drew Davis, who has agreed to be a grayshirt. But that would not be true in regard to the rest of Alabama's offensive line commitments.

Fleet defender Steve Gandy has yet to make his college choice.

Mississippi running back Brandon Jackson is another name once linked to the Tide whose recruitment is getting interesting. According to Jackson, Alabama's coaches visited him last week and explained their current scholarship situation. Jackson and Bama ended the recruitment amicably. Nebraska and their new head coach called Jackson this week, looking to set up an official visit. Add in visits to Oklahoma State, Michigan State and Mississippi State, and the excitement level around the Jackson household is plenty high.

Nashville's Walter Fisher is also looking out for his best interests. At one time he clearly wanted to sign with the Tide, and that still could happen. Fisher is a very good athlete and has solid SEC potential, but grade concerns are clouding the issue. He visited MTSU last weekend, which didn't exactly bowl him over. But Fisher is going to Colorado this weekend. He says he'll then visit Alabama the weekend of the 23rd, but he's been scheduled and rescheduled to Tuscaloosa before. Fisher is also mentioning Florida now, though it's not clear to what degree that interest is reciprocated.

Walter Fisher remains a possibility.

The list still could change somewhat, but at last count 20 athletes were scheduled to be in town this weekend on official visits, including 15 already committed and five so far undecided.

Lineman Justin Britt, safety Marcus Carter, offensive lineman Antoine Caldwell, tight end Trent Davidson, scatback Aaron Johns, wide receiver Ezekiel Knight, receiver/defensive back Aaron McDaniel, offensive tackle B.J. Stabler, tight end Nick Walker, wide receiver Nikita Stover, quarterback John Parker Wilson, middle linebacker Curtis Dawson, defensive end Jeramie Holifield, receiver Will Oakley and cornerback Simeon Castille have all previously committed to sign with Alabama. All 15 commitments are scheduled to take their official visits this weekend.

Several key recruits not yet decided are also expected, including Florida receiver Keith Brown, Mississippi safety/linebacker Steve Gandy, Louisiana lineman Jeremy Jones, Tennessee defensive lineman K.T. Mainord and Mississippi athlete Lavarus Giles.

All five athletes are excellent prospects, and all five could conceivably fit in quite well as members of this year's signing class. Bama's principal remaining needs are receiver (Brown and Giles), tailback (Giles), and defensive line (Jones and Mainord). And as we wrote yesterday in our Alabama Recruiting Notebook, Gandy may simply be too talented an athlete to pass up--should he be willing to go ahead and commit.

Jordin Lindsey

Luverne offensive lineman Chester Adams had been scheduled to visit this weekend, but he committed to Georgia mid-week--without ever traveling to Tuscaloosa to check out the campus of the school he claimed on several occasions was his childhood favorite.

When Adams made his announcement he cited his high school head coach Mike DuBose in explaining that he also would not be taking any more official visits. It's possible that Adams might be a surprise inclusion among this weekend's visitors, but not likely.

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 ranking of the Top Alabama prospects to watch right now.

  1. K.T. Mainord, DL, Can play end or tackle, Bama tops his list
  2. Lavarus Giles, TB/Ath, Versatile athlete could play tailback, safety or receiver
  3. Keith Brown, Bama needs at least one more talented wideout
  4. Jeremy Jones, DL/OL/TE, If LSU fills up, then Bama could get a good one
  5. Lorenzo Washington, DT/DE, Visiting UGA this weekend, then will decide

Alabama currently has 24 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,
Hoover quarterback John Parker Wilson, and
Hillcrest safety Jake Wingo.

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)
K.T. MainordDLGrundy County (Coalmont, TN)
Demonte BoldenDTChattanooga, TN
Terrence SmithLBNW Mississippi
Larry KendrickWR/DBHaines City, FL
D.J. HallWRChoctawhatchee (Ft. Walton Bch)
Steve GandyLBWayne County (Waynesboro, MS)

Today's Recruiting Hot News

OLDanny MuyPicks Nebraska
DEWalter FisherNext up... Colorado...
RBBrandon JacksonMississippi RB Shuffles Visits
RBBrandon JacksonVisiting next week

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