Tide hosts big recruiting weekend

While the appearance of star running back Jimtavis Walker was a major surprise among those making official visits to Alabama this weekend, that was not the only surprise. Tommy "T. J." Jackson is also among those in Tuscaloosa as Alabama has its first major football recruiting weekend.

Walker, who had committed to Florida under former Coach Steve Spurrier, then re-newed that pledge shortly after the announcement that Ron Zook would be the new coach of the Gators, had been announced Friday as having made the trip to Tuscaloosa. Walker's host player is Tide linebacker Jason Rawls, who had been a teammate of Walker's at Statesboro, Georgia.

Jackson, a 6-2 nose tackle who is listed as weighing anywhere from 280 to 305, is a star at Opelika High School and many believe he will sign with his hometown college, Auburn. It may not be good news that Jackson and visiting defensive end prospect Ben Grubbs (6-5, 250) of Elmore County in Eclectic seem to be spending much time with defensive tackle prospect Jeremy Clark (6-3, 265) of Daphne. Grubbs is also considered as leaning to Auburn, while Clark is thought to be favoring Alabama. In the past, there was an incident in which players who eventually signed with Auburn but were on official visits to Alabama spent their time in Tuscaloosa attempting to recruit Alabama prospects for Auburn.

There is no doubt that defensive linemen are top priority for Alabama in this recruiting year. One of the best defensive line prospects visiting Tuscaloosa this weekend is Jimmy Williams, a 6-2, 305-pounder from Memphis. Williams, who prepped at East High School and did not sign with a college out of high school, is now at Pasadena City College in California. Saturday he was overheard saying he would "probably" sign with Alabama, but he also said he intends to take his final visit to Virginia Tech on January 25. Alabama would have a difficult time waiting until Williams makes a visit that late in the recruiting period to have a decision.

Signing day is February 6. Because the Tide has self-imposed a loss of eight scholarships in this recruiting year because of past NCAA violations, Bama has only 17 scholarships to award.

Thirteen players have already announced their intentions to sign with Alabama. Five committed players are among those making visits. They are tailback Kenneth Darby and defensive back Ramzee Robinson, both of whom played at Butler High School in Huntsville, quarterback Brandon Avalos of Tuscaloosa Hillcrest, wide receiver Jamall Broussard of Houston and College of the Canyons in California, cornerback David Scott of Homestead, Florida, and Jones (Mississippi) Junior College, and defensive lineman Kyle Tatum of Prattville.

It had been thought that linebacker Derrick Pope of Galveston, Texas, and Garden City Community College in Kansas would also make his visit this weekend. However, Pope, who has committed to Bama and who is the nephew of Tide Assistant Coach Kenith Pope, is now expected to visit next weekend when his brother, wide receiver prospect Roshawn Pope, is also expected to be in Tuscaloosa.

Also visiting is linebacker Demeco Ryans of Bessemer Jess Lanier.

Additionally, defensive end Chris Harris of Tuscaloosa Central was with the prospects as an unofficial visitor. Harris is committed to Alabama.

Avalos, who is an outstanding all-around athlete, missed part of Alabama's recruiting functions because he was working out for two major league baseball scouts Saturday morning.

It was announced that wide receiver Charlie Vample of Reading High School in Cincinnati has committed to Cincinnati. Vample had made an official visit to Alabama, but was not generally considered a high priority for the Tide. However, he was a prep teammate of star running back Deshawn Wynn, who has also made a visit to Bama and who is considered a top prospect for Alabama.

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