Staff and recruiting a priority

Alabama has a new head football coach on the job, but he doesn't yet have a full staff and his time will be divided over the next week or so between completing his coaching staff, recruiting, and being honored. <br><br>Mike Price arrived in Tuscaloosa Saturday with four of his assistant coaches from Washington State.

With him are his son, Kickers Coach and Quarterbacks Coach Aaron Price, Running Backs Coach Kasey Dunn, Offensive Line Coach Bob Connelly, and Defensive Backs Coach Chris Ball. Almost certain to join the staff later is another Price son, Eric, who is expected to be offensive coordinator. However, Eric's arrival at Alabama is being delayed by the success of the New York Jets in the NFL playoffs. Eric is an assistant coach with the Jets.

Kasey Dunn will likely coach running backs.

There are strong indications that Mike Price has another staff position filled. Randy Ross, who was recruiting coordinator for Alabama under Gene Stallings, then filled the new role of liaison with high school coaches under Dennis Franchione, has been credited by Price as "holding recruiting together." Ross was able to stay in touch with those who have already committed to the Tide and with those who had been recruited by the Franchione staff.

Price said that after he and his staff finished with Rose Bowl preparations last week ­- Price's final week as head coach at Washington State ­- that they would make a call to Ross to get caught up on Alabama recruiting. Although Price did not say that Ross would be his recruiting coordinator, he indicated Ross will have an important post on the Price staff.

Randy Ross's official title may be presently uncertain, but his contributions the past few weeks certainly are not.

Although it will not necessarily play a critical part in recruiting, Price continues to plan to include on his staff a current Alabama high school coach and a former Alabama player. And, he pointed out, that could be one in the same, an Alabama prep coach who is also a former Tide player. It is believed that Ross' old high school liaison post will be filled by a current Alabama high school coach.

One thing Price did Sunday was contact all Alabama prospects. This week recruiting is limited to a school being able to contact a prospect one time by telephone. That's because the American Football Coaches Convention is being held in New Orleans this week.

Aaron Price will handle kickers and quarterbacks.

The Coaches Convention will serve two purposes for Price. He will have an opportunity to interview some prospective Crimson Tide coaching candidates. And on Tuesday night he will be the representative from the West Coast for the national coach of the year award. (He will be up for a similar honor later this month, the Paul W. "Bear" Bryant Coach of the Year Award. Ironically, former Alabama Coach Dennis Franchione, now at Texas A&M, will be the nominee from the Southeast for the Bryant Award.)

Although next weekend is considered the first big recruiting weekend of the season, Alabama will have only a small handful of prospects visiting. In order to get more acclimated and have a full staff, Alabama's first big recruiting weekend will be the weekend of January 17-18.

Price said it was helpful that Bama's former staff had recruited most of the class of 18 that Bama will be able to sign this February 5. And, he said, "It's helpful to have this school. Good players want to go to Alabama."

Convincing McClain to recommit will be a priority for Price.

He said that he is aware that other schools will use negative tactics in recruiting against Alabama, particularly the Crimson Tide's NCAA problems. Price said, "We're not going to do that. We'll talk positively about The University of Alabama. We won't break any rules. And we'll recruit great ­ not average, not good ­ great."

He also said there are some specific areas he is going to target in recruiting, but that he is not going to discuss those publicly.

As for recruiting territory, Price has said he will not recruit any players that he had previously been recruiting for Washington State.

The 12 players thought to be firmly committed to Bama are:

  • Matt Caddell, a 5-11, 170-pound wide receiver from McCalla High School in McAdory;
  • Tim Castille, a 5-11, 220-pound running back from Briarwood Christian in Birmingham;
  • D.J. Chambers, a 6-0, 180-pound athlete from Highland Home;
  • Chris Felder, a 5-11, 165-pound athlete at Camden Wilcox-Central;
  • Eric Gray, a 5-11, 180-pound cornerback at Trinity West Morgan;
  • Andraus Grace, a 6-3, 300-pound defensive tackle from Fort Meade, Florida;
  • defensive tackle Dominic Lee, 6-3, 295, of Birmingham Huffman;
  • Justin Moon, a 6-6, 290-pound offensive lineman from Guntersville;
  • Eric Packer, a 5-9, 184-pound running back from Camden Wilcox-Central;
  • Jarod Parrish, a 6-3, 180-pound cornerback from Chattooga High School in Summerville, Georgia;
  • William Roach, a 6-1, 190-pound safety from Killen Brooks; and
  • Travis West, a 6-4, 275-pound offensive tackle from Northeast Jones High School in Laurel, Mississippi.

Prior to the departure of Franchione, three other recruits were listed as committed. They are:

  • Michael Hill, a 6-3, 274-pound defensive tackle from Smiths Station;
  • Mario Lane, a 6-5, 240-pound defensive end and tight end from Montgomery Carver; and
  • fullback Le'Ron McClain, 6-0, 242, of Tuscaloosa County.

Since then Lane has said he is still committed to Alabama, but that he will make a couple of other visits. And McClain has indicated he will favor Alabama if he is convinced Price's offense has a place for him.

The Price offense is primarily a one-back offense.

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