Recruiting notes: Is Bama done?

Given the months and months of sometimes frenzied activity, the concept is probably tough for many Tide fans to grasp. But Wednesday's televised announcement by Lorenzo Washington that he was signing with Alabama could put the cap on Bama's 2004 signing class.

As we noted in a story earlier this week (One down; two to go?), the Tide is essentially finished with this year's recruiting. All that's left is to entertain one more group of official visitors, and then rake in the signed Letters of Intent next Wednesday on National Signing Day.

Yes, it's true that Markus Manson still has a scholarship waiting on him, should the Hillcrest star decide to switch from Florida to hometown Bama. But even if Manson decides for Orange over Crimson, it's unlikely that his scholarship would be used on another athlete.

Were that to happen, Alabama's coaches would most likely take their current group of 27 and be happy.

Washington may well be the capper on Bama's 2004 class.

Very happy.

As we have reported for awhile, family and friends close to Manson are pushing hard for him to switch his pledge and stay in town. But as logical as the argument is for him to stay close to home, on the other hand there are factors that could lead an 18-year-old, not yet ready to settle down, to want to get away from home.

Understandably, the Florida coaches are pushing hard for Manson not to take his scheduled official visit to Alabama this weekend. If that happens (or rather doesn't happen), then it clearly would signal Manson to Florida. That, as they say, would be that.

It's conceivable that Bama's coaches could fall in love with Riyad Rogers, a previously little-known tailback out of Dallas, Texas, who is visiting Tuscaloosa this weekend along with teammate Micah Howeth. But "conceivable" in this case is not "probable." More likely, if Manson joins fellow Bama expatriate Chad Jackson in Gainesville, then a current "conditional grayshirt" would just move up a spot on the list.

Fans worried about not filling Manson's tailback slot should take comfort in the fact that every time a coach views Aaron Johns' highlight tape, he comes away even more impressed. Described as a slightly bigger, slightly faster Shaud Williams, Johns is a genuine talent.

Besides Howeth and Rogers, three other athletes will definitely be in town for their visit Friday. But Travis Robinson, Jake Wingo and Cody Davis have already committed. Plus, Howeth is seen as a potential "sign and place" for the Tide and would not have any effect on Bama's scholarship numbers.

Bama's coaches would love to get Manson, but they're more than prepared to move on.

Speaking of those numbers, Alabama's current commitment total stands at 27, by "coincidence" essentially the same number that has been bandied about among sources close to the program for the past few weeks.

Fans shouldn't expect anyone to ever make a formal announcement on the subject, but there are several athletes listed as commitments who have agreed to be "conditional grayshirts" if needed.

Who they are and the exact pecking order among the group will be the subject of endless speculation among fans. But the only way any concrete information will come out is if one of the players talks (Drew Davis did), or if someone doesn't report in August but then does the following January.

In addition, several current commitments will probably not qualify and either go to prep school for a year or enter junior college. But again, aside from fan speculation (some informed, most not), the matter will just have to play itself out. Every summer there are stories of athletes that do not qualify that were expected to, and also instances of players given up as "academically dead" who rise from the classroom grave and make it.

Alabama currently has 27 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,
Loganville, Georgia defensive lineman Lorenzo Washington,
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.

RECRUITING NOTES: Alabama is allowed to bring in 19 new scholarshipped players this fall. The Tide is expected to sign as many as 26-27 players in February, anticipating that several will not become qualified. It's also probable 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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