Recruits re-affirm their commitments

With the news that the NCAA will hammer Alabama with crippling sanctions coming less than a week before National Signing Day, Tide fans are understandably worried about the athletes currently committed to sign with their team. <br><br>But so far all the athletes contacted are standing firm.

Nic Luke, a running back/safety out of Phenix City had a typical response. "I was kind of shocked to hear about the bowls for two years," he said. "But I committed to Alabama to get an education. I'm going there to get my degree and become the best football player I can be."

Nic Luke is firm in his decision to attend Alabama, but he does worry about the sanctions' impact on his brother Triandos.

Luke's brother, Triandos, will be a rising junior on next year's team. "I really feel sorry for my brother," Nic said. "Because if it stands he's not going to get to play in another bowl game. The only thing we can do now is ruin other folks' seasons. Beat them and ruin their season."

From listening to Triandos describe his experiences and his own personal interactions, Nic Luke has no doubt that Dennis Franchione will be up to the task. "I think this staff can get the team through it--most definitely," Luke said. "The coaches are all good men. They just want to win. They want to play the people that can make an impact on the field. That's the only thing you can ask for."

Tuscaloosa resident Brandon Avalos committed early to play quarterback for the Tide. "I'm still very excited about going to Alabama," he said. "I'm not reconsidering my commitment in any shape, form or fashion. I feel like Coach Franchione is going to do great things at Alabama. I'm solid to Alabama."

In fact, Avalos believes this year's recruits will be stronger in the long run. "I think these (events) could turn this recruiting class into a very tight-knit group," he explained.

Quarterback Brandon Avalos is solid to Bama.

Both Avalos and Luke played their high-school football in Alabama, which undoubtedly helps in terms of loyalty. But defensive back/wide receiver Roshawn Pope lives in Galveston, Texas. "We were warned in advance," he told BamaMag.com. "But oh man. I don't know. The sanctions make it harder for me."

"I wasn't surprised--not really," Pope continued. "I was just noting that what my uncle (Tide Assistant Coach Kenith Pope) said might happen did happen. I expected they would hit Alabama fairly hard."

So, what about his decision to play for Alabama? After all, Pope is considered one of the top prospects in Texas and was pursued by several other schools. "I'm still committed," he said. "But I am concerned about what is going to happen."

Out of Galveston, Texas, Roshawn Pope says he's still committed to the Tide.

Bessemer's Demeco Ryans is considered the top linebacking prospect in the state. "It hasn't affected my plans," he said. "I'm still going. I'm still committed to Alabama.

"I think Coach Fran will be able to handle it. He's an impressive guy. I think he'll be able to work through it."

Like most Tide fans, Ryans was not at all happy with the way his chosen school was treated by the NCAA. "I was upset, because they won't let Alabama go to a bowl game," he said. "That's a lot of what you play for is to go to a bowl. You look forward to that at the end of your season. I didn't know they were going to penalize them with a bowl."

Henry Smith, the top pure defensive tackle prospect in the state, has planned on signing with Alabama for weeks. He was not available for comment Saturday, because Smith was visiting Pearl River Community College in Mississippi.

Henry Smith will sign with Bama and start at a junior college.

Academic concerns will force him to begin at the junior college level, but his long-range goal remains the Tide. "He's still planning on attending Alabama," Smith's sister LaTisha told BamaMag.com today. "I don't know about NCAA penalties, but Henry is still planning on going to Alabama. That was his decision, and I don't think he's changed his mind."

Arguably the top defensive line prospect in Alabama, Kyle Tatum has never wavered in his commitment to Alabama. Turning away recruiters from almost every major program in the South over the past months, Tatum isn't about to change his mind now. "It hasn't affected my commitment to Alabama," he said. "That's still firm."

The top D-Line prospect in the state, Kyle Tatum is still firmly committed to Alabama.

"I was slightly shocked," Tatum continued. "The penalties were a little more than I thought they were going to be, but everything is going to work out."

The principal reason Tatum is able to make that statement resides in the second-floor corner office of the Alabama Football Complex. "There is no doubt that Coach Franchione is up to it--oh yeah," Tatum said. "I've gotten to know Coach Fran and I know what kind of leader and person he is. I'm not worried at all about that."

Last week's announcement by Defensive end/tackle Jeremy Clark's that he was signing with Alabama was seen as crucial by most analysts. The Daphne lineman is mature enough to contribute early at defensive end. And if he adds weight he could also excel on the inside at tackle.

Schools like LSU would still love to have him, but Jeremy Clark is headed to Tuscaloosa.

The Mobile Press Register quoted Clark this morning affirming his commitment to the Tide. And his mother confirmed that this afternoon. "Jeremy is still committed to Alabama," Mrs. Clark told BamaMag.com.

"We had talked about the NCAA situation earlier, and he had told me that regardless of what the penalties would be he was going to stick with his decision."

Another in-state star, Juwan Garth of Austin High School in Decatur, is also holding firm. "I'm still committed to Alabama," Garth said. "I really wasn't surprised, because I figured the NCAA was going to come down hard on them. But two bowl games did surprise me. I thought they were going to cut off air time on TV.

Juwan Garth won't let the sanctions deter him from his goal.

"The bowl games were a surprise, but I'm still committed.

Bowl games or no bowl games--Garth is coming to Tuscaloosa. "When I go to Alabama, everything about it I just love," he said. "I'm not going to let a bowl appearance stop me from playing. I've always wanted to play there. I'm not going to let that stop me for striving for what I want to do."

"I think Coach Fran can handle it," Garth continued. "I've talked to him a couple of times, and he's a strong-willed coach. I think he's going to pull us through."

Chris Harris understands that loyalty runs both ways.

Another outstanding defensive line prospect committed to the Tide, Chris Harris believes in loyalty. "I'm not looking around," Harris said. "I made my mind up about coming to Alabama. They made their mind up by committing to me, so I'm going to stay loyal. I'm going to go to Alabama. I believe that things will work out.

"I'm really not too much worried about probation. My mind is made up. I'm still coming to Alabama.

Similar to what Avalos said earlier, Harris believes adversity can make his group stronger. "I think the class may be even closer now," he said. "I think Coach Franchione is strong enough to get the team through this. For Alabama to get through this, the whole team and the whole coaching staff will have to come together."

EDITOR'S NOTE: Several of the players currently committed to Alabama were unavailable this morning.


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