With only 17 scholarships to give, to this point Alabama has 14 players listed as commitments. Quarterback Brandon Avalos, receiver Jamall Broussard, tailback Ken Darby, offensive lineman Grant Dickey, receiver Zach Fletcher, rover Juwan Garth, defensive end Chris Harris, fullback Nic Luke, cornerback Chauncey Malone, linebacker Derrick Pope, cornerback Ramzee Robinson, linebacker Demeco Ryans, cornerback David Scott and defensive lineman Kyle Tatum are all pledged to sign with the Tide.
Reports are that Malone will be signed and placed in junior college, which means that as of Tuesday, January 16th (recruiting changes literally every day) Bama would have four scholarships left to give.
Several possibilities remain ‘on the board,' but Alabama's remaining commitments are thought likely to come from this group:
- defensive tackle Jimmy Williams
- defensive tackle Henry Smith
- defensive end Ben Grubbs
- defensive lineman Jeremy Clark
- wide receiver Ben Obomanu
- wide receiver Roshawn Pope
- wide receiver Troy Bergeron
- running back/wide receiver Titus Ryan
- tailback Jimtavis Walker
- tailback Deshawn Wynn
Tailback Herchel Dennis had been scheduled to visit Alabama, but he reportedly committed to Southern Cal. Texas athlete (cornerback) Elvis Gallegos is also a strong possibility, assuming Alabama still has a spot available. Defensive tackle Laron Harris has been an on-again/off-again recruit for Alabama, and the Tide coaches made a visit to Harris' home this week. But Harris is out of official visits, and it's uncertain whether or not he might travel to Tuscaloosa unofficially. Nose Tackle Tommy ‘TJ' Jackson continues to list the Tide, but the odds of him choosing Bama (or Bama choosing him) are somewhat less.
Henry Smith and Roshawn Pope (the brother of Tide commitment Derrick Pope) are both likely to commit to Alabama, but like Malone they are each expected to be placed at a junior college. That would leave three defensive linemen (Clark, Grubbs and Williams), two receivers (Obomanu & Bergeron), two tailbacks (Walker and Wynn) and one stellar athlete (Ryan) as prime candidates for the four open spots.
Titus Ryan, said to be the top all-around athlete in the state, faces an uphill battle to qualify. For the last several months it was assumed that he would be a junior-college placement, but recent reports have him improving and possibly gaining at least partial qualifier status. If he reaches that point, then the Tide coaches would certainly want to make room for him. A delayed entry (blueshirt) could be a possibility, but probably only if that meant he would enter school as a full qualifier.
However, even leaving Ryan out of the equation, that still leaves eight athletes and only four scholarships. Most believe that Alabama wants to sign at least two more defensive linemen. And if the right combination of the available athletes commit, Bama might even take three. With the remaining two scholarships, it's believed that the Tide wants an additional outstanding running back (Walker or Wynn) and one other skill player (Obomanu or Bergeron).
How the grants would be allocated if more than one athlete wants to commit, is an open question. But Obomanu and Wynn are probably simply too talented to pass up.
There is no way to predict accurately how the final four slots will fall, but two linemen, one tailback and either Obomanu or Bergeron would be a good guess. Certainly, the Tide coaches would probably take that scenario and be happy.
On the other hand, which players are likely to commit to Alabama is another matter entirely.
Jeremy Clark is set to visit LSU this weekend, though it's believed Bama still leads.
Jimmy Williams will reportedly visit South Carolina followed by Virginia Tech. The junior college lineman said recently that he would "probably" sign with Alabama, but he is not likely to decide until after his last visit weekend (January 25th-28th). However, indications now are that the Tide coaches are willing to hold Willliams' spot until then.
And Titus Ryan is said to be a strong lean to the Tide, should he gain eligibility.
Obomanu will take a mid-week visit to Alabama today and tomorrow. Reportedly, the Tide is pulling out all stops on his visit, setting up meetings with The University president and the head of the School of Law in addition to the regular visit activities. But from Obomanu's own comments over the last few weeks, most recruiting gurus still view him as an Auburn lean.
Both Ben Grubbs and TJ Jackson say they have yet to make a decision, but most pundits believe they're leaning to Auburn. Alabama clearly would love to add Grubbs to its squad.
Jimtavis Walker enjoyed his visit to Alabama and was impressed with the Tide coaches, but immediately afterward he reported that Florida was still slightly ahead. On the other hand, other reports have him genuinely undecided. Walker will take his official visit to Florida this weekend.
Wynn visited Florida last weekend and was set for Boston College next, but apparently other Midwestern schools are trying to get him to visit. If the Cincinnati, Ohio native lived closer to the South he might now be considered a lean for the Tide.
Gallegos is said to favor Alabama, but location (he's from Texas) could be a factor. Watch for when he visits Alabama as a clue to how his recruiting is playing out.
Of course it's also possible that one or more of the currently committed players could end up as ‘blueshirts,' signing with Alabama but delaying their entry into school until January of 2003. Under that scenario, then Alabama could conceivably have more than four scholarships to award this season.
Delaying their entry until January of 2003 would allow an athlete to join the squad for spring drills, but Alabama would not have to count their scholarships until the following year. However, if that happens don't necessarily expect that such information would be made public. In fact, if the athlete himself keeps quiet on the issue, Tide fans may not find out about such situations until fall camp begins and a reporting roster is released.
Current high school athletes that could potentially take a ‘blueshirt' are defensive end/tight end/fullback Greg McLain, a 6-3, 235-pounder out of Lineville, and Earnest Nance, a 6-3, 210-pound running back/linebacker out of Courtland.
McLain is also being recruited by Louisville, though he grew up a Tide fan and would very much like to attend Alabama. Nance might well have been one of the state's top prospects, except an injury put off most college recruiters.
EDITOR'S NOTE: No one--not even the Alabama coaches--has a blueprint for how the next couple of weeks will actually play out. But this was BamaMag.com's attempt to sort things out as clearly as we could. All the bits of information (and assumptions) were gleaned from talking to recruits and observing the recruiting process this season.
And most importantly, recruiting changes day to day. What is probable now, may not even be a possibility tomorrow.