Recruiting Diary, pre-signing day

Fans that haven't been listening to Markus Manson for the past month (or <i>BamaMag.com</i> the past week) may have been disappointed that the final official visit weekend ended without any new Tide commitments, but the event played out pretty much as expected.

Two visitors flew in from Dallas, Texas: Micah Howeth (defensive end) and Riyad Rogers (tailback). Both enjoyed their visit. Sunday night Howeth announced he was signing with Kansas State, but then he quickly added that he would start his post-prep career in junior college. Which of course explains why he wasn't pursued more aggressively by the Bama coaches.

Rogers told TheInsiders.com that he was hoping for a scholarship offer from Alabama, but said he wouldn't know until Signing Day. That immediately prompted speculation that he could be a fall-back for the Tide at tailback, which is possible. But at this point probably not likely.

Markus Manson

Speaking of tailbacks, Markus Manson, considered one of the top prospects in the state this year, also visited the Tide campus this weekend, along with his Hillcrest teammates Cody Davis (OT), Jake Wingo (Ath) and Travis Robinson (CB). Manson was hosted by Antonio Carter, which was clearly by design. The gregarious Carter is both respected and extremely popular among his teammates. One of Alabama's very best one-on-one recruiters, Coach Charlie Harbison, also spent a lot of time with Manson the past two days.

Did it do any good?

Afterwards Manson was still equivocating, saying he was publicly committed to Florida but then adding "I don't know yet. I will know on Signing Day."

Logically, if Manson was still strongly committed to the Gators, then that wasn't a particularly wise thing to say. All he'd accomplish by still being noncommittal is ratchet up the attention directed at him personally on Signing Day, while also keeping Ron Zook and his recruiters heavily into Rolaids the next two days.

Whether Manson actually meant what he said Sunday night or not remains to be seen, but either way his story won't end until he actually faxes in his papers on Wednesday. By the way, it's a lock that both Florida and Alabama have sent Manson scholarship papers to sign.

Jake Wingo

Other athletes at one time or another linked to Alabama made news the past two days. Neil Brown, a defensive lineman out of Buford, Georgia, had been scheduled to take an official visit to the Tide campus this past week. But those plans were canceled when blue-chip tackle Lorenzo Washington committed to Alabama. Brown now says it's down to Tennessee, Auburn or Duke. If either the Vols or Tigers have offered an unconditional scholarship, expect him to jump their way.

Steve Gandy, an excellent linebacker/safety prospect out of Waynesboro, Mississippi, apparently has swayed back to Auburn. Back and forth between the Tigers and Ole Miss for the past two weeks, at one point last week the Ole Miss coaches thought they had Gandy. Then Tommy Tuberville put on a strong push, which apparently worked.

The Tigers were involved in news about another former Tide recruit this weekend as well. In fact, Chris Browder (defensive end) signed with the Tide out of high school two years ago, but after failing to qualify he was placed at Southwest Mississippi Junior College. At that point the issue becomes a bit confusing. Browder's high school coach has maintained all along that he was placed by former Tide assistant Kenith Pope, but for months now Auburn sources have claimed that their own Coach Whitt placed him. The head coach at SWMCC has acknowledged that Pope did place Browder, but says that since Pope is now at A&M no one at Alabama placed him.

Riyad Rogers

Interesting logic. And frankly, few would care except there does exist a clear understanding between junior college coaches and college coaches regarding JUCO placements. Basically, the college coaches are doing a huge favor to their junior-college counterparts. Both sides recognize that, and in return the JUCO coach normally does everything he can to both "protect" the placed prospect and later "steer" him to the placing school. The SWMCC coach now says that Auburn stopped by to check on Browder's status and at that point fortunately found out that he was theoretically able to graduate this summer, making him possibly eligible in the fall.

Browder committed to sign with Auburn this weekend. If he's eligible, then there is no doubt that the Tigers got an excellent athlete. On the other hand, if he does not graduate by August then Browder will be back on the market, available to be recruited by any Division 1A school as part of the '05 signing class.

What this bit of back and forth will do to relations between Alabama and Southwest Mississippi CC remains to be seen.

Auburn was to have hosted another Tide recruit this past weekend as well. Jeremy Jones of Houma, Louisiana, had been scheduled to make the trip, but it was canceled. He has apparently decided to accept LSU's offer of a grayshirt.

Signing Day Procedures

As most recruiting fans know, college coaches cannot speak about any high school prospect at any time during the recruiting process. It's a strict, clear rule that is definitely enforced. The only exception is on Signing Day itself, when coaches are basically given a one-day dispensation to comment specifically about their recruiting class and individual signees specifically.

Chris Turner will sign Wednesday.

However, that can't happen until the school receives the signed Letter of Intent. At one time that had to be in the form of a hard copy, which caused a great deal of confusion with players, player's parents, coaches, etc. driving to the Football Complex to deliver the papers in person. Or alternately the staff was simply made to wait--sometimes for weeks--as the papers were mailed or shipped to the coaches.

The NCAA now allows the school to accept faxed copies of the signed letter, at which point they can "count" the recruit and speak about him at a post-signing-day press conference. But the actual hard copy must eventually be received and kept on file.

Probably half to two-thirds of Bama's class will get the deal done quickly. Beginning at 8 am on Wednesday (maybe earlier), fax machines at the Football Complex will begin whirring. Some athletes just don't get around to it until later in the day. Often it will fall to the prep football coach to handle that duty, and he's not necessarily available till later in the morning. Other times, players may have scheduled a press conference, and they don't want to sign until then. So any of a number of things can interfere, stretching out the suspense longer than fans might like.

B.J. Stabler

When the machine's bell rings, the football secretaries will carefully retrieve the faxed copies and deliver them to the coaches. At that point Alabama's procedure for informing the fans is simple. Someone at Mike Shula's office (usually his secretary, Mary Spybey) will call Larry White, Alabama's Associate Athletic Director for Media Relations. White will then relay the information to any writers in his office.

At BamaMag.com Kirk and I have gone through several Signing Days now, and we think we've figured out the best way to pass along the news to our readers as quickly as possible.

First, please note that the morning and early afternoon will not be the time to check the front page of the website for breaking news. We'll have a morning story posted, listing all the athletes expected to sign that day. But frankly past experience has proven to us that the network server will be taxed to its limit that day. The result is that even if we post a story every 15 minutes or so, it won't "show up" on the front page until an hour (or more) later, which pretty much kills any concept of "breaking" news.

Kevin Hamilton

The message boards are the best bet for this type story, and that's where we'll be, specifically on the ‘BAMA Board.

We'd strongly suggest that all our readers (subscribers and non-subscribers alike) that are interested in seeing the latest signees check there on a regular basis. Things are going to be more than hectic that day, and please don't expect us to be in more than one place at once.

Kirk and I will do two things in that regard. First, as we receive confirmation that a player has faxed in his papers, we'll post that information on the message board ("Nikita Stover makes it official...") along with a quick bio and maybe a quote or two.

Second, we'll "stick" a thread to the top of the message board, saying "So far ____ athletes have faxed in their scholarship papers..." including, Will, Trent, Nick, Keith, etc.

Simeon Castille

As the situation changes and more LOIs are faxed in, we'll edit that post at the top of the message board to include the latest names.

At the end of the day, BamaMag.com will put up two big stories, listing all the offensive and defensive signees, including photos, bios, quotes, etc.

Then later in the evening, check back for a story based on Coach Shula's comments about the class in general, his recruiting goals, specific players, etc. But that story obviously can't be written until after we talk to Shula, which probably won't happen until late afternoon to early evening.

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.

Today's Recruiting Hot News

LBSteve GandyWar Eagles Prep Star Picks Auburn
RBRiyad RogersWaiting on an offer?
DEMicah HowethManhattan bound
RBMarkus MansonFlorida Commitment Back from Alabama
DECedric JonesWill wait it out...
DTNeil BrownNarrows List to 3
DTFred BledsoeJust Chilling

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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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