McCarron Only Quarterback Needed

Alabama Coach Nick Saban wasn't interested in discussing the ones who got away. The Crimson Tide recruits the nation's best football players and gets a good percentage of them. When recruiting at that level, there are going to be losses, and there were some. But Saban was more interested in the wins.

On Wednesday, Alabama Coach Nick Saban and his Crimson Tide football coaching staff added 25 players to the four who had already entered The University in January. The crop is considered among the best in the nation, perhaps the best. That's on the heels of the 2008 signing class being in the same rarified atmosphere.

Saban occasionally makes a pre-emptive strike when dealing with sportswriters and did so Wednesday afternoon. After a giddy beginning to the late Wednesday afternoon briefing, which was highlighted by the late addition of tailback Trent Richardson, Saban made it clear he didn't intend to discuss the ones who got away.

Although there may have been more, the high profile "losses" (keeping in mind that something can't be lost if it was never possessed) were offensive tackle Bobby Massie choosing Ole Miss and wide receiver Rueben Randle sticking with home-state university LSU.

The attention, though, was on the gains.

An early question was why Alabama, with only two scholarshipped quarterbacks (Greg McElroy and Star Jackson) on the roster would sign only one quarterback, A.J. McCarron, with this class.

Saban said, "I think that we were open-minded in how we would attack the number of quarterbacks we were going to recruit. We feel like we have some good young prospects here now. We thought A.J. McCarron was an outstanding prospect also in our state. Once he committed to us, we felt like someone had to be at least as good as him or better if we were going to take another player at that position. I think that is just kind of how it worked out. We are pleased and happy with A.J. being our quarterback in this particular class."

The class totals 29. Four players—offensive tackle James Carpenter, defensive lineman Kerry Murphy, tailback Jermaine Preyear, and offensive lineman Chance Warmack—entered The University in January and will particpate in spring practice.

The 29 total players come from seven states – Alabama (12), Georgia (6), Louisiana (3), Mississippi (3), Florida (3), Ohio (1) and South Carolina (1).

"In terms of needs, I thought it was really important that we get some big guys with long arms that could play on the edges on the offensive line," Saban said . "I think we were able to solve that. I also think there are skill players on offense who could make explosive plays and obviously getting a couple of runners like Trent Richardson, who is a great player, as well as some receivers and skill guys to go with that and to be able to attract one of the top quarterbacks in the country. I think all of those things will help us develop and sort of replace some the guys we lost on offense this year, which will be a real key to building our offense to what we need it to be in the future."

The signing class includes seven defensive linemen, seven offensive linemen, four linebackers, four wide receivers, four running backs, two defensive backs, and one quarterback.

"Defensively, we got some good front seven players, some defensive linemen," Saban said. "We only got a couple of defensive backs, if there was one area where we would have liked to have taken another guy or two, that might have been it, but we are pleased with the guys that we were able to attract. I think the quality of linemen in this class, and I think there are 12 or 13 true linemen, big guys, is probably important to the future of the program. We have never had the numbers in the offensive line that we need to have since we've been here, in terms of depth and quality. So, that is something that we were able

Among the 29 players are:

5 members of the Parade magazine prep All-America team – D.J. Fluker, offensive line; Nico Johnson, linebacker; Dre Kirkpatrick, defensive back; Trent Richardson, running back; Kerry Murphy, defensive lineman (2006)

3 members of the USA Today prep All-America team – D.J. Fluker; Dre Kirkpatrick; Trent Richardson

2 members of the EA Sports prep All-America team – D.J. Fluker; Dre Kirkpatrick; Trent Richardson

7 players who participated in the U.S. Army prep All-America game – Chris Bonds; D.J. Fluker; Nico Johnson; Kendall Kelly; Dre Kirkpatrick; A.J. McCarron; Tana Patrick

2 players who participated in the Under Armour prep All-Star game – Trent Richardson; Petey Smith

18 players named to the Southeast 150 – Dre Kirkpatrick; Trent Richardson; Kendall Kelly; Nico Johnson; Tana Patrick; A.J. McCarron; Chris Bonds; Eddie Lacy; Darrington Sentimore; Petey Smith; William Ming; D.J. Fluker; Rod Woodson; Brandon Moore; Anthony Orr; Kellen Williams; Jonathan Atchison; Quinton Dial

14 players named to Atlanta Journal Constitution Super Southern 100 team – Trent Richardson; A.J. McCarron; Eddie Lacy; Kendall Kelly; Kenny Bell; Michael Bowman; Anthony Orr; Chris Bonds; D.J. Fluker; William Ming; Nico Johnson; Petey Smith; Tana Patrick; Dre Kirkpatrick

18 players named to The Mobile Press-Register's Super Southeast 120 – D.J. Fluker (2); Dre Kirkpatrick (3); Trent Richardson (4); Nico Johnson (12); A.J. McCarron (26); Tana Patrick (28); Eddie Lacy (54); Michael Bowman (58); Darrington Sentimore (59); Rod Woodson (62); Chris Bonds (64); Kevin Norwood (69); Brandon Moore (80); Kendall Kelly (86); Ed Stinson (91); Quinton Dial (93); Kenny Bell (102); Petey Smith (112); William Ming (115);

10 players named to The Mobile Press-Register's Elite 18 – D.J. Fluker (1); Dre Kirkpatrick (2); Nico Johnson (3); A.J. McCarron (4); Tana Patrick (5); Brandon Moore (7); Kendall Kelly (9); Quinton Dial (10); William Ming (11); Anthony Orr (18)

The new Big Man on Campus is D.J. Fluker, listed on Bama's signing list as 6-5 and 340 pounds.

Saban said, "D.J. is an outstanding player, a big guy who is a really good athlete. I think he is an offensive tackle. The first time I saw him play, when I went to see Julio when you are allowed to go out in the spring, he was playing at McGill-Toolen on defense. He was as fine a defensive player when he was sophomore, for a big guy, that I had seen for a while.

"This year he moved to offense. I think he is happy playing offense. I think he is a guy who could develop into an outstanding offensive tackle, possibly even a left tackle. That is going to be the plan for him. He is good with that and we are happy that he is good with it. It certainly gives us a good, young prospect at that position.

"James Carpenter is also a guy who can be a tackle who has the range, long arms and athleticism to help us that is a little more of a mature player. To get a couple of guys like that in this class, and I think Brandon Moore is a guy that can contribute on either side of the ball. We are going to try him on defense first, but he was an outstanding offensive player for his team as well at Carver in Montgomery this year."

William Ming, a 6-3, 260-pound defensive lineman from Athens, could end up with his knuckles on the ground or in a stand-up position, Saban said. "William is one of those guys who is a good athlete and can stand up on his feet and play. He has played mostly with his hand in the dirt. He may try him as a jack, kind of an outside linebacker, with some pass rush ability and athleticism. If he gets bigger, we'll probably end up moving him to defensive end and let him grow into sort of a five or six technique kind of a defensive end, kind of the style of Bobby Greenwood, if he gets bigger. If he stays the same, I think he is athletic enough to stand up and play for us and try to make a pass rusher out of him."

He didn't comment on every player, but in answer to questions said that cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, who had off-season shoulder surgery, should make a full recovery in about three months. He called the injury "not unusual, not something that is usually an issue."

He didn't mention the receivers—Michael Bowman, Kevin Norwood, Kenny Bell and Kendall Kelly—by name, but said "Receiver is a place young players can play." He said the players will have to come in with a good work ethic and learn and they may have a chance to contribute, as Julio Jones did last year as a freshman. He said the staff made "play-makers a target" in recruiting.

He called linebackers signees Nico Johnson and Tana Patrick "outstanding players" and said that defensive end Ed Stinson had a number of positives.

All-in-all, Saban said, he expects the infusion of this signing class to raise the level of competition, and therefore the level of play.

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