First, it's definitely worth noting that not only were there no surprises for Alabama (positive or otherwise), but all the faxes were sent in and received in what has to be record time. Every year one or two athletes for whatever reason simply don't get around to the task until later in the afternoon, but not yesterday.
By 11:30 all 27 of Bama's "commitments" had been officially converted to "signees." And if the two faxes from Prattville (Kevin Hamilton and Travis McCall) hadn't been inexplicably delayed, it would have happened even sooner.
Who was first? Lorenzo Washington had that honor, faxing his papers in at 7:22 am (CT). Of course since he lives in the Eastern Time Zone, he had an unfair advantage over most of the Tide's signees.
We'll go into more detail later, but did Bama accomplish its goals this year? Not totally, but pretty doggoned close.
Bama needed talented wide receivers and lots of them. Yesterday the Tide signed six wideouts, several of whom should compete for playing time in the fall.
Bama needed warm bodies (preferably talented) on the offensive line. The Tide raked in five of the top six O-Line recruits in the state, at least four of whom are judged to have excellent potential.
A sometimes porous defense needed immediate help on the defensive line. Junior-college lineman Chris Turner will be expected to step in and contend for playing time right away. And four other extremely athletic D-Line candidates bode well for the future.
Fans are already discussing which signee will make the quickest impact. Barring injury, that question is easy. Because Chris Turner will be given every chance to play, essentially from the moment he steps on campus.
Of the incoming freshmen, wait till you see who gets eligible and then bet on any two receivers that strike your fancy. Nikita Stover, Ezekiel Knight, Will Oakley, D.J. Hall and Keith Brown--any one could easily end up playing (even starting) for the Tide next season. Marcel Stamps is more likely to grayshirt, but he's an outstanding athlete. So good that he could end up starring at linebacker.
Much has been made of Alabama's over-signing. With only 19 slots available in the fall, obviously all 27 won't be practicing in August. But don't be surprised if 20 or 21 are. The rest will either start at prep school, junior college or grayshirt.
And for any rival fans "harumphing" right now, get over it. Every major program regularly over-signs. It's a part of college football. Don't believe me? Ask your own school's head coach. That is if you dare risk being embarrassed.
On a related subject, someone suggested that Alabama was only taking commitments from players not likely to qualify because it wanted to artificially boost its recruiting rankings and play the publicity game.
Look at the list of Tide signees. Yes, several are considered longshots to qualify. But to a man, they're all Alabama natives. The truth is that Bama's coaches could have taken commitments from several out-of-state athletes headed to junior college (Micah Howeth and Walter Fisher to name two), but they did not. Why take an Alabama "sign and place" and not and out-of-stater?
Because as Shula plainly stated, their mission from the beginning was to dominate in-state, while also building relationships with Alabama high school coaches. Allowing a talented but academically-challenged player to sign anyway sends a clear message to both players and high school coaches. This Tide staff cares about the state.
Take care of your in-state players. Do it often enough, and eventually the in-state prep coaches will start to take care of you.
Opelika's Jacquez McKissic did not sign, but now he says he's choosing between North Carolina State and Clemson. If true, he needs to decide quickly and be thankful that both offers are still on the table.
And Mobile's Patrick White, who Alabama had recruited as both quarterback and receiver, reneged on his pledge to LSU on signing day. Instead, he inked with West Virginia, the only major-college program that recruited him as a quarterback only.
Early this morning I quickly browsed the signing lists for the various schools. Now two hours later, some of this information may be out of date, but at 7 am it was interesting.
At one time Auburn was having a very tough time, but the Tigers closed well, signing Tony Bell, Steve Gandy, Leon Hart, Neil Brown and Chris Browder. On the other hand, they lost Darius McClure to Florida State.
Mississippi State and Sylvester Croom had a very tough year; there's no way to sugarcoat that one. The Bulldogs did sign several Alabama natives, including Brandon Thornton, Titus Brown, Jazz Johnson, Jeff Farr and Chris Lark.
David Brown signed with Georgia Tech, as did Max Martin with the Wolverines. Tuscaloosa's Markus Manson is now officially a Gator. As expected, Demonte Bolden is a Vol. Notre Dame reeled in Darius Walker. Bama native Philip Nola signed with MTSU. And the Texas A&M Aggies got junior-college linebacker Terrence Smith.
Former Tide player and assistant coach Dabo Swinney did a good job for his present employer. Clemson ended up signing four athletes from the state of Alabama.