Recruiting status report

With National Signing Day set for tomorrow, Tide fans are anxious to see how much damage was done to this year's recruiting class by Friday's NCAA announcement. <br><br>One or two players are still undecided. And surprises (both good and bad) are always possible on signing day. But the Tide is expected to ink close to 20 athletes Wednesday.

High school seniors

The news Friday that Alabama has been hit with a two-year bowl ban frankly took Tide officials by surprise. And early speculation was that several commitments might be scared off and decide to sign with other schools.

Texas lineman Grant Dickey confirmed his commitment recently.

Numerous players committed to Alabama were deluged with phone calls from coaches around the country, hoping to take advantage of the situation and cherry-pick from Bama's list.

Things can always change in recruiting, but so far every single Tide prep commitment has publicly re-affirmed his intention to sign with Alabama.

The list of high schoolers expected to sign papers tomorrow includes:

  • Brandon Avalos, quarterback
  • Chris Browder, defensive end
  • Jeremy Clark, defensive lineman
  • Ken Darby, tailback
  • Grant Dickey, offensive lineman
  • Juwan Garth, rover
  • Chris Harris, defensive end
  • Nic Luke, fullback/strong safety
  • Chauncey Malone, cornerback
  • Greg McLain, tight end/linebacker
  • Earnest Nance, tailback/linebacker
  • Roshawn Pope, wide receiver/cornerback
  • Ramzee Robinson, cornerback
  • Titus Ryan, tailback/wide receiver
  • Demeco Ryans, linebacker
  • Henry Smith, defensive tackle
  • Kyle Tatum, defensive lineman

Junior college prospects

JUCO cornerback David Scott is expected to stick with Bama.

Even more than with the high schoolers, it was frankly expected that many, if not most, of Alabama's junior-college recruits would decide to go elsewhere.

The majority of prep recruits understand that a redshirt is likely their first year on campus, so for them a bowl ban wouldn't sting quite as much. But it's generally accepted that a junior college player isn't signed unless the coaches believe he can contribute right away, and redshirts not related to injury are rare among JUCO recruits.

Alabama officials are hopeful that at least one year will be returned on appeal, but right now a two-year bowl ban is in place. Meaning that junior-college transfers face the prospect of no post-season play, during their tenure at Alabama.

The problem has naturally had an effect.

Defensive tackle Jimmy Williams was once thought leaning to Alabama, and now no seems to know where he's headed. Linebacker Derrick Pope--one of the crucial elements of this year's class--is now frankly uncertain, and has told reporters he will probably wait until after Signing Day to make his decision.

Derrick Pope faces a difficult choice.

But the positive news is that both Zach Fletcher (wide receiver) and David Scott (cornerback) still appear Tuscaloosa-bound. And given that both play at ‘need' positions for the Tide, their standing firm is excellent news for Bama fans.

Alabama coaches remain hopeful about their chances with Pope and Williams, but both are clearly undecided.

Williams has said that bowl games are only a sidelight of his immediate plans, and that playing time and a chance to showcase his skills for the NFL are more important factors. Obviously, those goals could be met at Alabama.

And Pope of course is the nephew of Alabama Assistant Head Coach Kenith Pope and the brother of recruit Roshawn Pope. So even though he is being courted heavily by many of the top colleges in the country, family ties could still win out.

The numbers game

Greg McLain may be part of the 17 newcomers this fall.

Along with the restrictions on post-season play, the NCAA also imposed additional limits on scholarship numbers.

Alabama's self-imposed limit of 17 new grants this year was accepted, but a ceiling of no more than 80 total scholarships was also imposed. Counting the total number of scholarshipped athletes and subtracting the departing seniors, would seem to indicate that Alabama could only sign 15 or 16 players.

However, don't expect that to happen. In fact, even given the fact that several (up to five) of the committed group may not be qualified by September, Alabama will almost certainly bring in 17 new players this fall.

Attrition always takes a toll on the established roster, and most predict that up to 2-3 veteran players will not be back next year.

Other possibilities

JUCO receiver Zach Fletcher remains firm.

Of course former Tide recruits Ben Obomanu (Auburn) and Jimtavis Walker (Florida) reacted to the NCAA news by quickly committing elsewhere. But it's still possible--though not likely--that one or two other names might show up tomorrow.

Alabama made a late push for Courtney Taylor (WR/FS), but he's thought to be headed to Auburn. All-around athlete Kingi McNair (WR/SS/LB) out of Mississippi would probably sign, but it's not certain that there is a scholarship available.

There was also some excitement last weekend, when the Tide coaches hosted a huge line recruit not reported in advance by the media, but that was mostly a matter of laying the groundwork for a potential future signee. The visitor in question likes Alabama, but he will not be available to sign until December at the earliest. The Bama coaches preferred to keep his visit a secret, but his name is not new to Tide recruiting fans.

What to look for tomorrow

The procedure is fairly simple. Each athlete that Alabama hopes to sign will have scholarship papers on hand. Some will sign in private, but most will go through some sort of ceremony--usually at their school, with parents and coaches present.

Titus Ryan will likely begin in junior college.

The actual papers will then be mailed to the Tide coaches. But the NCAA provides that copies of the contract may be faxed in.

There are always surprises on signing day, so things will likely be tense tomorrow at the football complex. Reporters are not allowed to roam the halls, but will be on hand at the Media Relations suite. As papers are received, the information will be relayed to Larry White, the Director of Media Relations, who will in turn pass it along to the reporters on hand.

Several schools made a late run at Kyle Tatum.

Watch the message boards tomorrow for news of the signees. We'll be putting the individual reports up there, along with some quick information on the recruit. Later in the day, when the papers have all been received, we'll post a summary story on the front page.

As veteran recruiting fans know, more than one Internet site has essentially collapsed on Signing Day under the increased pressure. It's normal to expect more than 20 times as many page views that day, which frankly overwhelms the capacity of many servers.

We can't promise there will be no problems tomorrow, but we have been assured that our network technicians have done everything they can in advance, adding additional servers, streamlining the software and shutting down non-essential components.

Because of that, our readers will notice that some of the site's "bells and whistles" that normally work, will be inoperative. But Wednesday's priority will be the message boards, and hopefully the technician's efforts will pay off.

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