Tackle Alert

Alabama has done all it can do in certain areas to have the best possible results in recruiting. Bama will be on television. The Tide has great facilities and fan loyalty. Academic support is in place. The coaching staff gets high marks. But the number one reason many prospects list for choosing a college is playing time, and the more successful a school is in recruiting, the less playing time may be available to future prospects.

There are several positions where Alabama football will have recruiting needs in 2007. It's not a good idea to wait until you have a need before filling it, but sometimes there is little that can be done. When Alabama was under NCAA sanctions that cost 21 scholarships, the double edge of that sword was that many top prospects were convinced that Bama football was going to be down, and so not even all the available scholarships were filled with highly-rated prospects.

Some positions are easier to fill with true freshmen than others. For instance, Alabama is low on wide receivers. Crimson Tide recruiters will expect to be able to find young receivers with enough talent to contribute early.

Other positions are not so easy, notably quarterback and offensive line. In this upcoming season, many are expecting freshmen offensive linemen to be contributors. Andre Smith, who was one of the top players in the nation, is particularly being counted on.

Ordinarily, coaches prefer that a defensive tackle have a year as a redshirt then a year as a back-up before challenging for a starting job. That's because young men coming straight from high school usually need to muscle up a bit before getting into the college trenches at defensive tackle.

This year's Alabama football team has already lost one defensive tackle. Justin Britt was a regular at defensive tackle as a freshman in 2004 and as a sophomore last season, but was moved to the offensive line in the spring.

That means Alabama has as few as five players who were initial scholarship signees who will be at defensive tackle in the fall. Two of them are seniors and three are freshmen.

Jeremy Clark (6-3, 305) is the returning starter at left tackle. Dominic Lee (6-2, 303), who will go into August camp as number one at nose tackle, was one of the best stories of the spring, injury-free and performing as he had been expected to play when he was signed in 2003.

There is another senior, J.P. Adams (6-3, 288), who earned a scholarship.

Defensive tackle is a place where there are seniors and freshmen. The only other player with even a hint of experience in the defensive line is junior walk-on Justin Johnson (6-2, 248).

Three redshirt freshmen worked at the two tackle spots in the spring. They are Lorenzo Washington (6-4, 265), Brandon Fanney (6-5, 270) and Byron Walton (6-4, 298).

When Coach Buddy Wyatt goes recruiting, he will likely be particularly persistent when talking to defensive tackle prospects. He needs quick help.

Alabama signed one defensive lineman this year, but Milton Talbert (6-3, 235) is expected to be at end.

Many believe that Bryan Motley (6-2, 274), who was listed as an offensive line signee, will end up at defensive tackle for Bama.


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