RECRUITING 2002: Linebackers

Every unit on the defensive side of the football is critical to the overall success of the defense. The line, linebackers, and secondary units must fit together like pieces of a puzzle. <i>BamaMag.com</i> began the layout of the 2002 recruiting campaign with a look at the defensive back prospects. The second feature will focus on the men with the physical nature required to stand up to the run and the swiftness to lock up potential receivers in pass coverage---the linebackers.

LB Derrick Pope nephew of Alabama assistant coach Kenith Pope

Derrick Pope (6-0/220) Garden City Community College-Garden City, Kansas- Pope is the nephew of current Alabama assistant coach Kenith Pope. On the season, Pope has accounted for 105 tackles, seven sacks, and one fumble recovery while leading his team to an 8-2 record and a bowl berth. His efforts earned him the Defensive Most Valuable Player award for the Jayhawk Conference. Pope is known for his physical style of play and a hitter's mentality. May graduate who will sign with the Crimson Tide.

Juwan Garth (6-2.5/191) Austin High School-Decatur, Alabama- Garth was a summer football camp standout who committed to the Crimson Tide early in the recruiting process. He will likely benefit from a redshirt season to gain the necessary size and strength to play linebacker on the Division 1A level. Garth runs well enough to play wide receiver on the prep level but he projects as an outside linebacker in college. Contact player who should be a good cover man as it relates to the responsibilities of the linebacker position.

LB Christopher Browder could grow into a defensive end

Christopher Browder (6-4/210) Wilcox-Central High School-Camden, Alabama- Browder also committed to the Crimson Tide early in the recruiting process. He has the potential to grow into a defensive end at some point in his career. Browder is a natural pass-rusher with an excellent feel for leverage and angles. Contact player who needs only to get bigger and stronger on a college strength and conditioning program.

Demeco Ryans (6-1.5/210) Jess Lanier High School-Bessemer, Alabama- Ryans is a runner and a hitter which is a good place to start with linebackers. He has continued to improve throughout his prep career and could be the top linebacker prospect in the state of Alabama by the time National Signing Day arrives. Ryans is leaning to Alabama but the Crimson Tide may have to fend off several challengers as Ryans' stock continues to rise. Hard worker and good student who should easily qualify. BamaMag.com projects Ryans'name to be on the list of signees the first Wednesday in February.

LB Garnet Smith rushing the quarterback

Garnet Smith (6-3/222) Lamar High School-Arlington, Texas- Smith would be a tough pull against the likes of Texas and Oklahoma but he consistently expresses a desire to make an official visit according to reliable sources. Smith is an outstanding football talent who would be welcomed with open arms by the Alabama coaching staff. Will he make a visit? Will he enjoy his visit enough to choose the Crimson Tide? Time will tell.

Ernest Nance (6-2.5/212) Courtland, Alabama- Nance's senior season ended early after he tore a knee ligament that required surgery to repair. Prior to the injury, Nance displayed excellent quickness and speed and his status will be monitored by several Division 1A programs.

LB Rufus Alexander could be headed to Texas

Rufus Alexander (6-0.5/202) Christian Life Academy-Baton Rouge, Louisiana- Alexander is still on the recruiting board but a late decision could make him less of a possibility. Additionally, the Texas Longhorns appear to be making a hard push to get a signature from Alexander.

Elijah Dukes (6-2/220) Hillsborough High School-Tampa, Florida- Dukes is scheduled for an official visit this weekend (11/30). The potential threat of Dukes being a high pick in the Major League Baseball draft and academic uncertainties have caused many programs to hold off on a scholarship offer. Dukes is a versatile prospect who could get evaluated as a linebacker, fullback, or tight end.


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