Recruiting roundup, only 12 days left

With less than two full weeks remaining before National Signing Day on February 6, the attention today is focused on which athletes will trip to Tuscaloosa on the final visit weekend of the season. <br><br>At least three names make up the visit list. Quarterback/Free Safety Kingi McNair, Free Safety/Wide Receiver Courtney Taylor and Defensive End Chris Browder are scheduled to arrive today.

Earlier, UA compliance officials voluntarily limited the Tide to only 34 official visits this recruiting season. So far Alabama has probably used 28, which would leave only six precious visits to allocate.

Courtney Taylor

Interestingly, defensive tackle prospect Henry Smith of Aliceville and cornerback commitment Chauncey Malone of Trinity have yet to visit Alabama officially. NCAA rules prohibit an athlete from taking an official visit until he has taken his standardized test. Reportedly, Smith has not yet taken the ACT, but Malone has. learned yesterday that Smith plans to commit to Alabama and then enroll in Pearl River Community College. The big lineman hopes to begin as quickly as possible and graduate junior college early, allowing him to get to Alabama for the 2004 season. "He's going to wear Crimson," Smith's father said.

Courtney Taylor (6-3, 190) from Carrollton only just emerged as a possibility for the Tide. The reigning prep high-jump champion in Alabama had committed to Auburn, but a recent qualifying test score has raised his recruiting stock. Tuscaloosa's proximity to Taylor's hometown could be a factor in his decision.

Christopher Browder a re-commit to the Tide

As a high school senior Taylor accounted for 1,200 all-purpose yards and 23 touchdowns. He returned four punts for touchdowns on special teams and made 75 tackles and six interceptions on defense. In basketball, Taylor has led his team to a 14-1 record while averaging 25 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists per game.

Christopher Browder (6-5, 215, 4.56) is a name familiar to Tide fans. He had committed to Alabama earlier in the process, before switching his verbal to Auburn. At the time, sources indicated that Browder's uncertain qualifying status had made him less of a target for the Tide. He's still believed likely to either go to junior college or prep school, but several sources Wednesday had him once again committed to Alabama.

Some scouts described Browder as virtually unblockable on the high school level, and Browder's coaches credited him with an impressive 29 quarterback sacks as a senior. He also recorded 136 tackles in leading a defensive unit that allowed fewer than five points per game during an undefeated regular season. His sack total is believed to be an Alabama State record.

Kingi McNair (6-3, 210, 4.5) of Pelahatchie, Mississippi is a versatile athlete who played several positions as on the prep level. But his size and speed could translate well to the defensive backfield in college.

Ben Obomanu's delay in committing could be a good sign for Alabama.

McNair played quarterback and free safety in high school. He threw for just over 1000 yards and eight touchdowns, while adding another five touchdowns on the ground. On defense he turned in eight interceptions and 43 tackles.

In other news involving Tide recruits still on the board, Selma's Ben Obomanu was named a Parade All-American, the only athlete so honored in the state this year. His recruitment is coming down to the wire. Tide Head Coach Dennis Franchione took an in-home visit Thursday afternoon with the Obomanu family, which apparently went very well.

At one time Obomanu was thought to be an Auburn lean, but recent commitments by several receivers to the Tigers could signal a change in that position. Obomanu was scheduled to take an official visit to LSU this weekend, but it's considered just as likely that he will trip elsewhere. New Notre Dame Head Coach Tyrone Willingham attended one of Obomanu's basketball games this week, and the Irish are working hard to sway Obomanu out of state.

Other reports have Obomanu close to a decision, but the NCAA's delay in announcing Alabama's sanctions is probably still a factor. Many times during the recruiting process Obomanu has expressed concern about the outcome of the NCAA investigation. Rival schools have bombarded him with dire predictions, claiming the Tide will be crippled. So it will surprise no one if he waits to announce his college choice until after the results become public.

Jimtavis Walker hosted Franchione Thursday night.

Franchione left the Obomanu house and immediately flew to Georgia, for an in-home visit with Statesboro tailback Jimtavis Walker. Walker has never taken back his verbal commitment to Florida, but his recent actions indicate he is giving Alabama strong consideration. Like Obomanu, NCAA sanctions could significantly influence Walker's decision.

Along with Walker and Obomanu, junior college defensive tackle Jimmy Williams remains one of the Tide's prime targets. He is scheduled to visit Virginia Tech this weekend. If that trip takes place and Williams does not instead visit Tennessee, then sources believe Alabama will be in good shape for Williams' signature.

Former Bama recruit Elvis Gallegos, a 6-2, 180-pound defensive back from Richland, Texas, waited as long as he could on the Tide. But when it became obvious that Alabama would not bring him for an official visit, he committed this week to Texas Christian.

Jimmy Williams visits Virginia Tech this weekend.

Earlier this week, the Tide took in a flurry of commitments. Greg McLain, Titus Ryan, Roshawn Pope, Earnest Nance and Jeremy Clark all announced their intention to sign with Alabama.

Depending on eligibility, Clark and Ryan would report this September, though both still have work to do. Ryan probably has the longest road to travel, with partial qualification status likely his best chance. Clark needs to raise his ACT score, but that goal is reportedly within reach.

Pope is also not yet eligible, and will likely enter junior college or prep school. It's also possible he will sit out next fall, working to gain eligibility and enter The University in the winter of 2003.

Nance is recovering from a serious knee injury, and he says he plans to sit out fall semester rehabbing and enter next January.

Earnest Nance will delay his entry, while rehabbing from surgery.

Depending on how circumstances play out, McLain could start in September or wait until January.

Athletes that delay their entry into college until January of 2003 would not be counted against this year's scholarship numbers.

Alabama is working under a self-imposed limit of only 17 scholarships this season. At this point, 20 athletes have committed (including Browder), but several of those will not enter school for the fall semester this September.

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