On ‘Losing' Prospects

When Sidell Corley, the 6-4, 248-pound defensive end from McGill-Toolen in Mobile announced last week that he was committed to Florida, there was a great moan among the Alabama football faithful who saw another top prospect from the state of Alabama headed to the Gators.

This is not to minimize the loss to Alabama of a player like Sidell Corley. High schools in the state of Alabama produce players equal to or better than those of any other state, but the population of Alabama is such that it is impossible to have as many top prospects as high-density states like Florida and Georgia. And so while Bama can go into Florida and get prospects, that doesn't hurt the Gators as much as when Florida can go into Alabama and get top players.

It is a long time until the next signing period in February, and Alabama will continue to recruit Corley, but in all probability he will stick to his commitment. His teammate, cornerback-wide receiver Phelon Jones, also committed out of state, to Miami.

Florida also got a top wide receiver from Alabama a couple of years ago when Chad Jackson went to the Gators. Although Jackson's presence was minimal in Alabama's 31-7 win over Florida last fall, there is no question he would have been a force in Bama's offense the past couple of years.

But Alabama didn't "lose" Corley any more than Bama "lost" Jackson. You can't lose what you don't have.

Jackson indicated early in the recruiting period that he didn't have interest in Alabama. Corley was a little different in that just days before committing to the Gators he raved about his visit to Tuscaloosa.

The recruiting setbacks hurt, but overall Alabama can look forward to recruiting success.

It's not hard to imagine Alabama's primary selling points to prospects:

Although our opponents hate to admit it, Tradition does count. There were four notable bowl games last year. Naturally, the national championship bowl game, Texas beating Southern California. The others were Ohio State vs. Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl, because both are traditional powers with huge fan bases; the Orange Bowl with two giants of coaching, Penn State's Joe Paterno and FSU's Bobby Bowden; and the Cotton Bowl, Texas Tech's big offense against Alabama's defense.

Throughout the bowl season, Alabama was being mentioned for its records of 53 bowl games and now 30 bowl victories. And the 13-10 win over Texas Tech gave Alabama its 28th ten-win season, also a national record.

For as long as the NCAA has been charting the reasons athletes select their schools, one of the primary factors as been Facilities. No one can touch Alabama. Bryant-Denny Stadium will open with some 9,000 additional seats and other amenities in September. Already one of the nation's most beautiful, it will now rank among the nation's largest. Beyond that, the Tide's football building at the practice area has locker room, weight room, training room, squad room and meeting rooms second to none. There are four outdoor practice fields and one indoor field.

Peripheral to those are the Bryant Museum, a showcase for Crimson Tide tradition, and Bryant Hall, an incredible academic center. This is important for recruiting to show the parents Bama is going to give their son or daughter every opportunity to succeed academically.

Another very important recruiting factor is the coaching staff. Mike Shula and his staff have proved they are good recruiters, which should not be a surprise. It is wonderful to have a man like Shula representing The University of Alabama.

There are many other factors. For instance, if a player and his mother hope that he can play on television, Bama obviously has the advantage. Only Notre Dame has been televised more than Alabama. Last year the Crimson Tide was on national television more often than not.

There are rare times when Bama will be at a disadvantage. Although one can get any of a number of valuable degrees at The Capstone, if a player has a lifelong interest in something like sheep husbandry, then the Tide will probably lose him to one of the Ag schools.

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