Friday Night Lights: Large LaRon

MEMPHIS --- All who closely follow the fortunes of the Alabama Crimson Tide know that one of the top priorities in recruiting is help on the depth-starved defensive line. Coaches Franchione, Torbush and Eggen are all aware of this and beating the bushes to find impact players, especially at the two inside tackle positions. One prospect who is both getting and giving crimson consideration is Memphis Kingsbury DT LaRon Harris.

At 6-1, 300, LaRon can both dunk a basketball and turn a standing back flip. That's not common for anyone, much less someone Harris' size. After watching Harris help his Falcons past the Trezevant Bears 12-6 in overtime, FNL is convinced he could help the 2002 Tide team in the defensive trenches.

Harris' head coach tends to agree, heaping high praise on his senior star. "LaRon is the most athletic big man I have ever seen or coached," said Kingsbury High School Head Coach Duron Sutton. No argument here, coach. To the categories:

NAME GAME: If you read last week's FNL, you know our original intent was to spotlight Central-Tuscaloosa DE Chris Harris, already a Tide commitment. Chris is battling injuries, and DT is a pressing need, and we've been to Dreamland several times since our last trip to a well-known Memphis BBQ joint, so when recruiting analyst Tom Culpepper asked for some company on his already-planned Memphis trip, it was an easy call.

We will attempt to see Chris Harris in the playoffs, if possible, though we also hope to see Daphne DT Jeremy Clark at that time.

SENIORS WHO SHINED: Eiland Means, younger brother of Albert, may be headed to the University of Memphis to play with his brother. The hometown Tigers did have a coach at the game. Eiland is a DE/TE who can move and plays hard. Eiland is both younger and slimmer than his elder brother. His Trezeveant fellow seniors DL Sam Davis and WR/DB Mario Pratchett also caught our eye. Harris' fellow senior, OL/DL Jamal Marshan, is a big man who is not the athlete LaRon is, but his size will get him a look.

Davis went down with a first quarter leg injury, and was encouraged by his coaches and teammates to continue playing while lying on the field. "Come on, Sam, its your senior year!" yelled one Bear. Davis did get up, hobble off, and return to play a fine game.

JUNIORS TO WATCH: Kingsbury ATH Terry Jackson is not the biggest guy on the field, but he makes things happen. FNL found Jackson to be a deadly combo of touchdown maker and interception taker. "He's the best player on the field," said one KHS administrator who has followed Jackson's career. He was definitely one of 'em. THS LB Bobby Lewis will put a lick on you.

SUPER SOPH: The Bears featured no sophomore starters, but we did notice KHS Falcon Deonte Hulbert, who can play a number of skill positions but seems most comfortable in the secondary.

UNCLE MILTY SIGHTING: We figured we might see him at the game, and sure enough, former Bears assistant Milton Kirk was in attendance, supporting his former team and holding court in the visitors' stands. We resisted the urge to approach Kirk and ask to hear our favorite Brer Rabbit story.

OUT OF PLACE: FNL was a bit surprised to see a fellow on the Trezevant sidelines with a number 24 Jeff Gordon jacket on. NASCAR truly does reach fans every where, even the....

INNER CITY: Its a unique experience to attend a game featuring a pair of inner city schools. We've done so in Birmingham, Atlanta, and Memphis. A scoreboard on just one end, a lot of athletes but not a lot of coaching, extra trash talking, sparse crowds, and (this was a first) PA announcer. It was our first-ever homecoming halftime court presentation without names on the public address system. Yet, we were in... And game programs? Fuhgeddaboudit.

THE SHADOW OF GREATNESS: Fairgrounds Stadium is located literally in the shadows of the Liberty Bowl. Several times during the game we felt both patriotism and nostalgia. The former was due to the neon American flag that tops the large stadium and stays lit 24/7. The latter was due to having covered coach Paul "Bear" Bryant's final game in that stadium 19 years ago.

Tide Defensive Line Coach Stan Eggen has scouted LaRon Harris.

FASHION STATEMENTS: The THS head coach braved 45 degree temperatures with shorts and a short sleeve polo. We also liked the athletic tape on his fingers and wrists, which aided in flashing in plays. Not to be outdone, Sutton sported a do-rag Deion Sanders would have been proud of. Duron did wear long sleeves.

CRIMSON CONNECTION: While no Tide coaches were spotted at the game, one Kingsbury administrator remarked that DL coach Stan Eggen had been by the school earlier in the week scouting LaRon.

BETTER LATE THAN NEVER. The THS band arrived at halftime. Granted, with it being KHS' homecoming game, there would not have been a ton of time for the Marching Bears to perform on the field. They did provide pep during the second half. Must be something about this part of the world, as the Ole Miss band used a similar timetable a few weeks back.

HOW BOUT THEM...RIBS: FNL had not eaten at The Rendzevous, a well-known Memphis downtown barbeque joint, since scouting David Paine back in 1998. We're happy to report the uniqueness and tastiness for the dry ribs, along with the unique atmosphere/ambience of the place, is still intact. Tom will tell you the taste for dry ribs must be acquired.

NEXT WEEK: A battle of unbeatens is sure to draw a big crowd when the Butler Rebels journey down from the Rocket City to visit the top-ranked Hoover Buccanneers. BHS features Tide commitments Ken Darby and Ramzee Robinson, while two of the state's top juniors will also be on display. Rebel LB Michael Jamar and Hoover WR Chad Jackson are atop the lists of many recruiters lists for 2003, already.

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