Reshuffling Bama's D-Line board

Though at least two defensive line slots remain unfilled in Alabama's 2004 class, that's not to say that there wasn't plenty of recruiting action involving the position over the past few days.

Once it became clear that K.T. Mainord was out of the picture (the Coalmont, Tennessee, native was sent home by the Tide from his official visit for undisclosed problems and subsequently committed to South Carolina), then even more attention was paid to Jeremy Jones.

Michael Brown's recent interest in the Tide has caused Bama's coaches to rethink their D-Line list.

Listed as a tight end, Jones(6-4, 280) has the frame and bulk to handle defensive tackle or guard. He says he would prefer tight end, where he played in high school, but he also acknowledges the possibility that he could end up on the defensive line.

"I had a great visit," Jones told Andrew Bone of Sunday night, speaking of his trip to Tuscaloosa. "They absolutely showed me a great time."

Jones was one of 21 athletes on hand for the big official visit weekend. But only six (he was one) were undecided.

"(Tide defensive end) Chris Harris was my player host," Jones said. "We got to hang out with other recruits."

A combination of a late start in high school football and an ACL injury suffered during his senior season have limited Jones' recruiting publicity, but Alabama assistant Buddy Wyatt has been working him hard for the Tide.

"I got to talk with the coaching staff personally," Jones continued. "I like that Coach Shula was very honest. I appreciated that approach."

With Bama's available scholarships dwindling fast--and numerous blue-chip athletes asking the Tide for an official visit--Jones' reference to Shula being "very honest" was undoubtedly right on. At this point Alabama's coaches have to accurately gauge how serious the new candidates are in signing with the Tide, then make plans accordingly.

Last Thursday Jones was naming LSU and Mississippi State as his co-leaders. After his visit to Tuscaloosa he's changed that up somewhat. "My top two right now are LSU and Alabama," Jones said Sunday.

Jones said he might be ready to announce by Tuesday or Wednesday of this week--or he might not.

"I'm going to have to think about it," was the way the big Louisiana lineman put it. "I might be through taking visits. I was scheduled to visit Auburn next weekend, but we'll have to see."

A teammate of tailback Darius Walker at Buford, defensive lineman Neil Brown now plans to visit Alabama.

Clearly the Tide coaches are hoping to garner the pledge of standout line prospect Lorenzo Washington (6-5, 275, 4.75), who even after his official visit to Georgia last weekend was still giving hints that he's leaning to Alabama. But complicating the Tide recruiting board is the increased interest of several other star Peach State prospects as well.

Tailback Darius Walker (5-11, 195, 4.45), who for the past months had mentioned Alabama only in passing, is now scheduled to take an official visit to campus beginning today. In 12 games this season Walker rushed for more than 1,900 yards and 40 touchdowns. Not coincidentally, Walker is good friends with Lorenzo Washington. And Walker's decision to visit could impact Alabama's D-Line recruiting as well.

Teammate Neil Brown (6-1, 249, 4.9), who played with Walker at Buford, now says he'll visit Alabama. Brown finished his senior season with 84 tackles and three quarterback sacks. He's also considering Duke, North Carolina, Michigan State and Tennessee.

At this point Neil Brown will probably visit later in the month, but he joins two other blue-chip Georgia linemen that are scheduled to visit next weekend.

Colquitt's Brandon Miller (6-4, 218, 4.5) probably remains a longshot for Alabama, with Florida State and Georgia still leading. But his continued interest in the Tide is real.

Perhaps even more intriguing, Michael Brown of Westlake High School in Atlanta revealed last week that he was taking an official visit to Alabama as well. Brown (6-5 ½, 260, 4.95) projects as a defensive tackle and had previously committed to Georgia.

A big athlete who moves well, Jeremy Jones could project at several line positions.

Assuming that Lorenzo Washington follows through on his hints and inks with Bama, that probably only leaves one available D-Line slot in this year's class. But for now at least, the Tide coaches are sorting through some very talented prospects, aiming to turn one from "prospect" to "commitment."

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.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Andrew Bone of contributed to this report.

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