The expectation that a majority of the signees may be in the playing rotation this fall is part of the reason there is more than usual interest in the academic achievements of the 2004 Alabama football signees. Alabama signed 27 new players, although only 19 may enter The University on football scholarships in August. And it is almost impossible to provide an exact answer as to qualifying. Qualifying requires:
Completion of high school graduation requirements, attaining a grade point average of 2.5 or better in the core requirements, achieving a score of 17 on the ACT or 820 on the SAT, in the case of Alabama student-athletes passing the high school exit examination, and, finally, being approved by the NCAA Clearinghouse.
As best we can determine, here is the situation with Alabama signees:
In the "Breathe Easy" category, those who are expected to qualify with no problem, are 12 players:
Lineman Justin Britt of Cullman, offensive lineman Antoine Caldwell of Montgomery Lee, strong safety Marcus Carter of Fort Payne, cornerback Simeon Castille of Birmingham Briarwood Christian, tight end Trent Davidson of T.R. Miller in Brewton, offensive tackle Cody Davis of Tuscaloosa Hillcrest, linebacker Curtis Dawson of Birmingham Hoover, defensive end Travis McCall of Prattville, wide receiver Will Oakley of Nease in St. Augustine, Florida, cornerback Travis Robinson of Tuscaloosa Hillcrest, defensive lineman Chris Turner of Northwest Community College in Senatobia, Mississippi, and defensive tackle Lorenzo Washington of Grayson in Loganville, Georgia.
In the "Still A Little Work To Do, But Should Make It" category are six players:
Wide receiver Keith Brown of Pensacola, Florida, wide receiver D.J. Hall of Choctawhatchee in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, running back Aaron Johns of Thomasville, safety Aaron McDaniel of Fort Payne, offensive lineman B.J. Stabler of Clarke County in Grove Hill, and tight end Nick Walker of Pike County in Brundidge.
There are also three signees who have been designated as "gray shirt" players, meaning they have agreed to postpone entry to The University until next January and count against the 2005 limit of 25 signees if there is no scholarship spot available this year. These three, who would all be in the "Breathe Easy" category, are offensive tackle Drew Davis of Sparta Academy in Evergreen, wide receiver Marcel Stamps of Brantley, and quarterback John Parker Wilson of Birmingham Hoover.
Additionally, a sure qualifier who is expected to report in August and not count against this year's 19 new scholarshipped players is strong safety Jake Wingo of Tuscaloosa Hillcrest. The son of former Bama linebacker Rich Wingo, Jake is eligible for a Bryant Scholarship.
That leaves five players who are in the "Questionable to Doubtful" category. Some have made significant strides since Signing Day last February and could move into one of the 19 slots. They are:
Defensive end Brandon Fanney of Hamblen West in Morristown, Tennessee, defensive end Kevin Hamilton of Prattville, defensive end Jeramie Holifield of Birmingham Hoover, wide receiver Ezekial Knight of Randolph County in Wedowee, and wide receiver Nikita Stover of Hartselle.
Daily reports on these five are as volatile as some stock market readings–up one day, down the next. For instance, the most recent information on Stover is that he is very close and that it will come down to a couple of scores on final examinations. Holifield has made excellent progress, but is still considered likely to be in prep school or junior college in the fall. Knight seems to be on course to qualify, but cannot afford the slightest stumble.
It is our belief that both Fanney and Hamilton will start their post-high school careers in junior colleges.