Recruiting Diary, 28th & 29th

And then there were two. Two remaining guaranteed scholarships, that is. <br><br>Yesterday's announcement by D.J. Hall that he planned to sign with Alabama leaves virtually all the Tide recruiting attention on Lorenzo Washington and Markus Manson.

Hall had been rumored as a private commitment to Alabama since last weekend, but his initial plans were to wait until this morning (Wednesday) to formally announce. Whether by design or simple excitement, during a phone call last night with TheInsiders.com's Andrew Bone the talented Florida wideout uttered those magic words: "Roll Tide!" And the news was out.

Along with Will Oakley and Keith Brown, Hall's commitment gives Alabama three of the most talented receivers in the state of Florida this year, quite a turnaround from recent years when the Tide lost talented in-state wideouts to neighboring schools. Has Head Coach Mike Shula and his pro background helped Bama attract a different caliber of receiver? Almost certainly.

D.J. Hall announced his commitment to Alabama yesterday.

Alabama's coaches are holding their breath a bit, waiting for the second big domino to fall tonight. Defensive tackle Lorenzo Washington will appear on Countdown To Signing Day tonight, and he's made it clear that's when he will announce his final decision.

Washington long ago narrowed it down to Alabama and in-state Georgia. Strong rumors had him making a tentative decision during his official visit to Tuscaloosa, which was confirmed after he visited the UGA campus the following week. As that rumor goes, Washington finally took a long look at an accurate depth chart for both Georgia and Alabama, and saw that "early playing time" was on the Tide's side. Also, Bama coach Paul Randolph has done a masterful job building a relationship with Washington.

If Washington does commit to the Tide, then it's possible that much of the recent flurry of activity involving Bama and various D-Line recruits could become moot.

Jeremy Jones of Houma, Louisiana took his official visit to LSU last weekend, announcing afterwards he expected to make an announcement soon. Since that time neither Jones nor his high school coach have been available for comment. Is the decision that difficult? More likely Jones did not hear what he wanted to hear from LSU, and now he's hoping for good news from Alabama. It'll be interesting to see how this one plays out.

As we've noted several times, sometimes the athlete plays the recruiting game, and sometimes the game plays him.

Washington will announce tonight.

Several recruits linked to Alabama made news the past few days. Junior college standout Larry Kendrick waited for several days after taking an official visit to Ole Miss, but yesterday he announced for the Rebels. If D.J. Hall did indeed commit to Alabama last weekend, then there is a question as to whether Kendrick really had a choice by Tuesday. But that's one of those almost beside the point questions that come up every recruiting season.

At one point Alabama would have been happy to sign Kendrick. No sour grapes at all. He's an excellent athlete. But did Bama run out of scholarships? Probably.

Defensive tackle Michael Brown took himself off Bama's board earlier in the week, indicating he probably would not take an official visit to the Tide campus as earlier reported. Today he switched his public commitment from Georgia to Florida. He's a good athlete, but the Tide was probably never more than a longshot in this one.

At this point the more important "Brown" for Bama is Neil Brown. The Buford, Georgia native says he'll take his last official visit to Alabama. Brown's high school basketball game may prompt him to come on Thursday and Friday rather than the normal Friday to Sunday morning visit, but he says he's coming.

At one time or another Brown has considered Tennessee, North Carolina, Auburn and Michigan State. Brown is clearly still looking for the right fit. That could be Bama, but the Tide also could be out of scholarships by this weekend. Again, it'll be interesting to see how this one plays out.

Neil Brown

An unconfirmed report has Kris Guyton of Hillcrest committing to sign with UAB. If true, that's good for Guyton, who for whatever reason hasn't received much recruiting attention this year. At one point he was seriously considered as a grayshirt candidate at Alabama. More recently, the Tide coaches obviously hoped they could entice the hometown athlete to walk on.

Tailback/receiver/safety Lavarus Giles supposedly committed to sign with Ole Miss last weekend. I say "supposedly" because there frankly has been very little written about it since the initial news. There have been reports though that Alabama's coaches are still working hard on Giles. Whether as back-up in case of a "bad" decision by Markus Manson or not, remains to be seen.

Every time we think we've confirmed this weekend's official visit list, it changes. Which at this time of year is hardly surprising. It's virtually certain that the Hillcrest foursome of Cody Davis, Travis Robinson, Jake Wingo and Markus Manson will be on hand. Following advice (good advice) from his high school coach, Manson has not changed his story in his statements to the press. He remains committed to Florida, but will take all his visits--including, of course the one this weekend to Alabama.

Riyad Rogers

Will he switch? Sources very close to Manson (as in close friends and family) say "probably yes." Manson has deep family ties, including a four-month-old toddler, that could keep him in Tuscaloosa. On the other hand, a logical argument can also be made that an 18-year-old could well want to get away. And Gainesville, Florida would certainly fill that bill.

Again, stay tuned. It's entirely possible that Manson will never announce anything, simply sign with the school of his choice on National Signing Day and be done with it.

As we said earlier, defensive lineman Neil Brown should also visit. Coach Randolph and Alabama got in on him a little late, but since he's clearly not thrilled with his early choices, that's not necessarily a bad thing. Ideally the Tide coaches would like him in for the normal Friday evening to Sunday morning schedule, but if Brown's basketball schedule forces him to come earlier, they'll make do. Brown is athletic, versatile and qualified--three excellent things to be for a D-Line prospect.

At this point two visitors from Dallas, Texas, are scheduled to be in Tuscaloosa as well. Defensive end Micah Howeth has consistently said very good things about Alabama throughout the recruiting process. Recruited by Buddy Wyatt, Howeth might well be committed already if he projected as a qualifier. Howeth might end up as a "sign and place" for the Tide.

Markus Manson

White High School teammate Riyad Rogers is also scheduled to make the trip with Howeth. Rogers is a tailback. But whether or not there is genuine interest by Alabama (whose scholarships are almost all gone) remains to be seen.

In the meantime, check your local listings for Countdown to Signing Day, and tune in to see ‘Zo's final decision.

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. Lorenzo Washington, DT/DE, Plans to announce today on TV
  2. Markus Manson, TB, Will he go or will he stay?
  3. Neil Brown, DL, Talented lineman still searching
  4. Jeremy Jones, DL/OL/TE, No recent word from Jones
  5. Micah Howeth, DE/TE, Good prospect; a "sign and place"?

Alabama currently has 26 public commitments, including:

Cullman two-way lineman Justin Britt,
Gulfport, Mississippi, receiver Keith Brown,
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,
Fort Walton Beach, Florida receiver D.J. Hall,
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

Lorenzo WashingtonDTGrayson (Loganville, GA)
Markus MansonRBHillcrest (Tuscaloosa, AL)
Neil BrownDLBuford (Buford, GA)
Micah HowethDLW.T. White (Dallas, TX)
Walter FisherDLHillsboro (Nashville, TN)

Today's Recruiting Hot News

WRD.J. HallMakes a Commitment with Two Words...
WRLarry KendrickMakes a Commitment
WRD.J. HallBack from LSU... Decision Day Approaching
DTMichael Brown"It is about 50/50 right now"
RBMichael McLaughlinNeither rain nor snow nor gloom of night.......
DTMichael BrownGeorgia DT Comes to a Final Decision

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WRD.J. Hall (Choctawhatchee HS)6-3/171/4.37 

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  • 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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