Athletes can actually sign as early as 7 am (CT) for those commitments living in the Eastern Time Zone, so it's possible the Crimson Tide fax machines will get an early workout. Normally the majority of athletes go ahead and get the chore out of the way in the morning, but it's also commonplace for several to keep coaches (and fans) waiting until after lunch--occasionally way after lunch.
Twenty-seven prospects have publicly announced their intention to sign with Alabama today, but it's possible that the day could hold a few surprises. Several athletes publicly committed to other schools will almost certainly also have a Tide letter to sign if they change their minds.
Athletes on the offensive side of the football expected to sign with Alabama today include one quarterback:
Hoover quarterback John Parker Wilson, (6-1, 180, 4.62).
One running back:
Thomasville running back Aaron Johns, (5-10, 185, 4.5).
Six wide receivers:
Fort Walton Beach receiver Keith Brown, (6-3, 180, 4.4),
Fort Walton Beach, Florida receiver D.J. Hall, (6-3, 171, 4.37),
Randolph County wide receiver/linebacker Ezekiel Knight, (6-3, 210),
Jacksonville, Fla. wide receiver Will Oakley, (6-1, 190, 4.45),
Brantley receiver/linebacker Marcel Stamps, (6-3, 190), and
Hartselle wide receiver Nikita Stover, (6-2, 187, 4.5).
And five offensive linemen:
Cullman two-way lineman Justin Britt, (6-4 ½, 255, 4.8),
Lee High School guard/center Antoine Caldwell, (6-2 ½, 265, 5.1),
Hillcrest High School offensive tackle Cody Davis, (6-7, 265, 5.15),
Evergreen offensive lineman Drew Davis, (6-6, 270, 5.5), and
Clarke County offensive tackle B.J. Stabler, (6-4 ½, 291, 5.38).
Eleven recruits probably slated for defense should sign with the Tide today, including five defensive linemen:
Morristown, Tennessee defensive lineman Brandon Fanney, (6-5, 260, 4.7),
Prattville defensive lineman Kevin Hamilton, (6-3, 255, 4.88),
Hoover defensive end Jeramie Holifield, (6-5, 250, 4.6),
Northwest Mississippi CC defensive tackle Chris Turner, (6-3 ½, 287, 4.8), and
Loganville, Georgia, defensive lineman Lorenzo Washington, (6-5, 275, 4.75).
And four potential defensive backs:
Fort Payne safety Marcus Carter, (6-1, 190, 4.46),
Briarwood Christian cornerback Simeon Castille, (6-1, 187, 4.5),
Fort Payne defensive back/wide receiver Aaron McDaniel, (6-1, 170, 4.5), and
Hillcrest cornerback Travis Robinson, (5-10, 180, 4.3).
Signing Day Procedures, Readers Please Note
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.
However, that can't happen until the school receives the signed scholarship papers. 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 scholarship, 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.
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 in 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. And 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.
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 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.
We'll 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.
As the situation changes, we'll edit that post at the top of the message board to include the latest developments.
At the end of the day, we'll put up two big stories, listing all the offensive and defensive signees, including photos, bios, quotes, etc.
And 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.
Read all of the recent recruiting stories on Alabama recruits from TheInsiders.com.