RECRUITING 2002: RB Deshawn Wynn

"I'm done with my visits," said running back Deshawn Wynn. "I just need to make a decision now. It's mostly between Alabama and Florida. Cincinnati is still in it because it's close to home and my teammate, Charlie Vample, is committed to them. I have not set a time frame for my decision. It could be real soon or it could be next week."

Wynn, a 6-foot, 222-pounder from Reading High School in Cincinnati, Ohio, possesses a rare combination of size and speed. He runs with exceptional power and balance. As a senior, Wynn rushed for 2,283 yards and 30 touchdowns on 236 carries. Two straight 2,000-yard rushing seasons has convinced his head coach that Wynn is a special talent.

"Deshawn is the total package," said Reading High School Head Coach Ken Minor. "He is equally effective running inside or outside because of his combination of power, speed, and field vision."

Wynn has been compared to San Diego Chargers running back LaDainian Tomlinson. This season, Tomlinson led all rookie running backs with 1,236 yards and ten touchdowns in his first season in the National Football League. Tomlinson was coached at Texas Christian University by current Alabama Head Coach Dennis Franchione. On the college level, Tomlinson became only the ninth running back in the National Collegiate Athletic Association's history to rush for over 5,000 yards in a career when he completed his career with 5,263 yards rushing. Tomlinson garnered two NCAA rushing titles when he led the nation in rushing for two consecutive seasons. As a senior, Tomlinson rushed for 2,158 yards and 22 touchdowns, which is the fourth highest season total in NCAA history. Tomlinson is one of only eight running backs to rush for over 2,000 yards in NCAA history. For his accomplishments, Tomlinson was awarded the 2000 Doak Walker Award given annually to the top running back in college football.

RB LaDainian Tonlinson holds the Doak Walker Award he won under the tutelage of Coach Fran

Prior to Franchione‘s arrival, the Alabama offense was 66th in the nation in rushing offense at the completion of the 2000 season with an average of 137.6 yards per game. Under Franchione, the Crimson Tide finished the 2001 season ranked ninth nationally with 226.4 yards rushing per game. While the turnaround was impressive, the running back position is still in need of a "game breaker" capable of both finishing long runs and catching the football out of the backfield. Wynn has been an Alabama target to potentially fill the role throughout the Class of 2002 recruiting campaign.

While there is no way of knowing all of the factors involved in a prospect's decision, there are some readily apparent factors about the three schools under consideration that are worthy of mention. Here are a few:


Obviously, the hometown Cincinnati Bearcats would own the advantage if distance was the only consideration. However, playing college football on the highest level where a player is regularly competing on television and in bowl games would give an edge to the two Southeastern Conference programs. Alabama would own the advantage over Florida by virtue of a seven hour drive to Tuscaloosa versus a twelve hour drive to Gainesville.


The Florida Gators recently hired a new head coach, Ron Zook, after the resignation of Steve Spurrier. Under Spurrier, the Gators ran a wide-open offensive attack that featured quarterbacks and wide receivers. Coach Zook assured Gator fans at his initial press conference that he would not make changes to the style of play they had grown accustomed to.

"There is not going to be a lot of change," said coach Zook. "We are going to be an attacking offense that makes things happen. We are going to throw the football around the ballpark, and we're going to score a lot of points. That is my style and personality."

Further evidence of Coach Zook's commitment to the passing game came when he hired Ed Zaunbrecher from Marshall to be his offensive coordinator. Under Zaunbrecher, the Thundering Herd offense passed for over 4,000 yards and 40 touchdowns this past season.

Coach Franchione is committed to a multiple offense that will allow a special talent at the running back position to post gaudy statistics comparable to the Tomlinson Era at TCU. Consequently, the Alabama offense would appear to provide an edge to the Crimson Tide in the recruitment of Wynn.

Offensive Line

Alabama started three red-shirt freshmen during the 2001 season as Wesley Britt, Evan Mathis, and Justin Smiley cleared the way for the turnaround in the running game. Britt and Smiley were named to the Sporting News Freshman All-America team. Additionally, J. B. Closner was redshirted during his freshman season and the staff is excited about his future. Grant Dickey, a talented offensive lineman from the state of Texas, is also headed to Tuscaloosa. All five are projected to be available for at least the next three seasons.

So, what will Wynn decide to do? No one knows for sure except Wynn himself but there are some important factors that could point him to Tuscaloosa.

BamaMag Top Stories