Signing Day finally arrives

There is no reason to sugarcoat the situation by claiming that 2003 has been anything less than an extremely tough recruiting year for Alabama. <br><br>But if new Head Coach Mike Price can hold on to all his publicly committed athletes--and possibly land a few more--then the Tide coaches will be happy.

Faced with an incessant stream of negative recruiting from rival schools, Price and his staff have faced a steep uphill battle this year. But while several high-profile Alabama athletes will almost certainly end up leaving the state, the Tide's list of public commitments heading into National Signing Day is still impressive.

Bama's committed recruits include:

Bama fans are praying that this "Saint," Freddy Saint Preux, will see the light and sign with the Tide.

Rated tops in the state of Alabama at their respective positions, Caddell (kick returner), Lee (defensive tackle), Castille (tailback), Felder (cornerback) and Roach (safety) headline a very athletic class. Add in Eric Gray, and the Tide has commitments from six players included in TheInsiders.com's Top 100 Southeastern Recruits.

Several members of that elite list remained uncommitted up until Signing Day, but as of Tuesday night in the Southeastern Conference only Florida (nine commitments) and Georgia and LSU (seven commitments each) rated better than the Tide.

Of course it's almost certain that Alabama's final list of signees will differ from the one given above. Some may very well sign elsewhere. For example at this point Georgia native Jarod Parrish might even be considered a Tennessee lean. But on the other hand, the Tide is hoping to pick up some key uncommitteds as well.

Defensive tackle Freddy Saint Preux (who may be favoring Texas A&M), linebacker Mitchell Thomas (strongly considering Notre Dame) and linebacker D.J. Norris (publicly committed to Florida, but possibly leaning to Florida State) would top Bama's Signing Day wish list.

Depending on last-minute decisions by the Tide coaching staff (and the recruits), Alabama's final list could also include junior college punter Brandon Roberson and/or others.

For the commitments to be official, NCAA rules require that the athletes sign Letter of Intent papers and FedEx them to the respective schools. However, the various athletes normally fax a copy of the documents to the school, which in the interim are considered "official."

Because he committed early he's gotten relatively little publicity, but Chris Felder is said to have enormous potential as a defensive back.

NOTE: BamaMag.com will be on hand at the Alabama Media Relations Department all Wednesday morning, checking off the faxes as they are received. We'll be posting on the message board that information as quickly as possible, so watch for those posts during the day.

The majority of athletes will send the faxes in the morning--some as early as 8 am. But while Wednesday, February 5th is the earliest that athletes are allowed to sign with a school, there is nothing prohibiting a player from delaying that action. Every year--for one reason or another--a few high-profile recruits delay their signing until after National Signing Day.

None of Alabama's commitments are expected to do that. But that has happened with Tide recruits in the past, and it's certainly possible tomorrow as well.

Wednesday will also mark a one-day exception to another NCAA rule. Normally, coaches are strictly prohibited from publicly mentioning recruits by name. But on National Signing Day only, coaches are permitted to speak to the press about their various signees.

However, it's a one-day only exception, and after Wednesday coaches must again remain mum on their individual signees until the players officially report to campus next August.

Coach Mike Price will speak to the press tomorrow afternoon at 4 pm. BamaMag.com will be on hand and will, of course, pass his thoughts along to our readers.


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