Brown likes Bama, visiting MSU

Precious few spots are left on the 2004 Alabama recruiting bus, so fans are understandably focusing their attention on the several athletes still considered strong possibilities. <br><br>Receiver Keith Brown continues to favor the Tide, but he's taking an official visit to Mississippi State this weekend.

Because he played his final season of high school football in Pensacola, Florida, many fans forget that he's actually a Mississippi athlete. Several months older than the average high school senior, Brown (6-3, 180, 4.4) transferred from Harrison Central in Gulfport, Mississippi, to Pensacola, Florida, in order to be eligible for his final prep season.

Given his Magnolia State ties, it's not surprising that Brown wants to check out Mississippi State and its new head coach Sylvester Croom. But is the Tide still ahead?

"Yes, Alabama is my leader," Brown told in an interview last night.

Brown went on to reiterate his plans to announce his final decision, following his visit to Starkville.

Keith Brown took his official visit to Alabama last weekend.

Understandably he's been impressed with Sly Croom (what's not to like?), and he wants to give them an even chance.

"If I feel more comfortable there than I did at Alabama, I will consider going (to MSU)," Brown related. "There might be a possibility."

Nothing is set in stone in recruiting, but Brown describes being blown away by his official visit to Alabama last weekend.

"I liked it a lot!," Brown said. "I like the people there, and the school is great. The players definitely and the coaching staff."

Tide assistant Bobby Connelly had taken the early lead in recruiting Brown, but while on campus Brown learned why receivers coach Charlie Harbison has a reputation for being one of the best one-on-one recruiters out there.

"I love my position coach, Coach Harbison," Brown said. "You have to love your position coach."

And don't forget his quote immediately following Brown's visit to The Capstone. "It was like a brotherhood down there," was how he put it at the time.

Competing this past season for Pensacola, High School in Pensacola, Florida, Brown had an outstanding senior season with 56 receptions for 1,310 yards and 19 touchdowns. He also returned one kick-off and one punt for touchdowns and scored five times carrying the football. Following the season Brown was named Offensive MVP of the prestigious California/Florida All-Star game.

Brown's 4.4 reported time in the 40-yard dash should be legitimate. As a sophomore he placed third in the state in the 100-meters with a time of 11.2. That same year he won the 200-meter dash, clocking in at 21.82. The next season his best times were 11.17 for the 100-meters and 22.29 in the 200-.

Last week Florida State coach Bobby Bowden paid a visit to Brown's school to put on a late push for the tall wideout. Reportedly Bowden tried the old "loaded depth chart trick," showing Brown a long list of names (including walk-ons and never-used upperclassmen) to "demonstrate" that Bama was loaded at wide receiver. Brown knew better and initially fended off Bowden's attentions.

But recent reports have Pensacola coach Mike Bennett "encouraging" Brown to take an official visit to Tallahassee. spoke to Bennett yesterday, and the Pensacola coach gave us a somewhat enigmatic quote. According to Bennett, "Keith is going to take an official visit to FSU next weekend but they really are not in the picture."

Later when we asked Brown directly about a possible visit to Florida State, he said his mother was firmly opposed to the idea.

Brown is a tall, fast receiver with good hands--and best of all he appears likely to qualify.

It's not unusual for prep coaches to advocate that their athletes give in-state schools a close look. So it'll obviously be interesting to see how this one plays out. Working in the Tide's favor is that FSU is a latecomer to this game, which could give Bama an edge.

And of course Brown's nickname is "Mississippi Brown," not "Sunshine State Brown."

According to Brown, he and his family have met in person with three different college coaches this week, Charlie Harbison of Alabama, Woody McCorvey of State and Seminole Bobby Bowden.

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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