A delayed debut at tight end?
With the departure of Terry Jones Jr. to the NFL (probably), for the first time in four years Tide fans are asking ‘Who will be the man at tight end?' Obviously, returning upperclassmen Theo Sanders and Donald Clarke are leading contenders, but practice observers are also predicting good things from David Cavan.
A walk-on from American Christian High School in Northport, Cavan has the size (6-5, 230) and speed to contribute. And based on receiving ability alone, Cavan could well be the biggest offensive threat Alabama currently has at tight end.
But bad injury luck will delay Cavan's impact on the depth chart. A torn ACL suffered at the end of last season was recently repaired by surgery. And though he might participate in some drills this spring, Cavan will not be ready for serious football until next fall.
Self-imposed sanctions limiting Tide's options?
As part of their self-imposed sanctions proposed to the NCAA's Committee on Infractions last November, the Alabama compliance officials voluntarily limited the Tide to only 34 official visits this recruiting season.
In the past, Franchione has made clear his intent to focus on in-state players, but also to identify and go after the top players at their positions in the country. But to a certain degree that philosophy has undoubtedly been affected this year by the sanctions.
It's impossible to know for certain the actual number, because some athletes assumed to be taking official visits may instead have been on campus unofficially. But so far Alabama has probably already used 28 visits: Jason Allen during the 2001 season, five on December 7th through 9th, 12 athletes visiting January 11th, Ben Obomanu midweek (January 15th & 16th), and nine recruits this past weekend (18th through the 20th).
Assuming those numbers are correct, that would leave Alabama with only four precious visits to allocate the last visit weekend, before signing day on February 6. Several athletes such as Elvis Gallegos of Texas and Herchel Dennis of California very much wanted to trip to Tuscaloosa, but the Bama coaches had to turn them down. And there were others in the same position.
Incidentally, both Gallegos and Dennis ended up committing to schools close to home.
Also, defensive tackle prospect Henry Smith of Aliceville and cornerback commitment Chauncey Malone of Trinity have yet to visit Alabama officially. Neither Smith or Malone are expected to qualify academically, so despite their obvious talent at ‘need' positions, they would likely not be available to contribute for two years (after graduating from junior college).
In normal years the coaches could afford to be much more generous in who to bring to campus officially. But with some specific needs to address and scarce scholarships (and visits) left to give, the Tide coaches are being very careful in considering who will get the last visits.
Potential contributors injured, but recovering
He still needs to add some bulk to become an every-down player, but the Tide defensive coaches have consistently lauded the potential of Mark Anderson at defensive end. Standing 6-5 and with excellent quickness and straight-ahead speed, Anderson is seen as a prototype "flash end," rushing the quarterback off the edge. He reported last fall, weighing only 210 pounds. But since then he has worked very hard in the weight room and is adding bulk.
Unfortunately, Anderson suffered some cartilage damage to his knee late in the season. He choose to wait until January to have arthroscopic surgery to repair the damage. But the good news is that he's recovering well and should be fine for spring practice.
Rising sophomore Danny Martz (6-4, 290) has a chance to make an impact on the depth chart next season. Martz has good strength and could contribute next season as a backup guard.
His injury is a broken right wrist, which he actually practiced with for the last month of the season. He's sporting a cast now with an electronic device to stimulate the healing process. It will temporarily limit what he's able to do in the weight room, but Martz is expected to recover fully.
Two other potential contributors already healed
Marquez Dupree (6-0, 219) was signed as a tailback, but he's athletic enough to contribute at strong safety. And with his wide shoulders and low center of gravity, many have projected him at fullback.
After undergoing arthroscopic surgery in September as a follow-up procedure to a high school ACL injury, Dupree frankly took several months to recover. But late in the season he was running well, and should be essentially healed.
Alabama needs help at safety, and former cornerback Carlos Andrews (6-0, 204) is considered a prime candidate. After climbing as high as co-first string at cornerback last spring, the coaches put him at strong safety in the fall. But a leg injury crippled his chances to learn the new position, and ultimately the decision was made that Andrews should apply for a medical redshirt.
Like Dupree, Andrews was fully recovered and running well by the end of the season. And barring further problems, the Tallahassee native will be full speed in the spring.