Tide inks 17 athletes

Wednesday, National Signing Day, concluded the 2003 recruiting season, with athletes all over the country signing and faxing in copies of their official papers to their respective schools. <br><br>By late afternoon, 17 athletes had signed with Alabama.

Eric Gray, a cornerback from Trinity West Morgan High School in Trinity, Alabama faxed his paperwork in at 8:19 am and was the first recruit to officially join Bama's 2003 class.

Bama's 2003 Signing Class


Matt Caddell      WR/KR    5-11    170  McCalla       McAdory
Chris Capps       OL       6-6     260  Fairburn, GA  Landmark Christian
Tim Castille      TB       5-11    220  Birmingham    Briarwood Christian
D.J. Chambers     WR       6-0     180  Highland Home Highland Home
Cliff Davis       QB       6-5     210  Eupora, MS    Eupora
Chris Felder      CB       5-11    170  Camden        Wilcox-Central
Eric Gray         CB       5-11    190  Trinity       West Morgan
Terrence Jones    LB/SS    6-1     205  Northport     Tuscaloosa County    
Dominic Lee       DT       6-4     295  Birmingham    Huffman
LeRon McClain     FB       6-1     240  Northport     Tuscaloosa County
Justin Moon       OL       6-6     300  Guntersville  Guntersville
Earnest Nance     OLB      6-3     210  Courtland     Courtland
Eric Packer       WR/RB    5-9     184  Camden        Wilcox-Central
Tyrone Prothro    CB/KR    5-10    176  Heflin        Cleburne County
William Roach     WR/FS    6-1     195  Killen        Brooks
Demarcus Waldrop  OLB      6-0     200  Pinson        Pinson Valley
Travis West       OL       6-4     295  Laurel, MS    Northeast Jones

Tide signee Dominic Lee was the top-rated defensive line prospect in the state.

Taking into account NCAA probation and the staff changeover, 2003 was a brutal recruiting season for the Tide. New Tide Head Coach Mike Price and his staff fought an uphill battle from the moment they arrived in Tuscaloosa, attempting to counteract the flood of negative recruiting that overwhelmed many of the Tide prospects.

In the end, only one Bama commitment switched on Signing Day. Safety Jarod Parrish of Summerville, Georgia had been committed to Alabama. But for several days it had been an open secret that he was probably going to sign with Tennessee, which he did Wednesday morning.

The Tide staff had hoped to sway several blue-chip athletes that were either undecided or committed to other schools. Those efforts were not successful.

Junior college defensive tackle Freddy Saint Preux, who played for Dodge City (Kansas) Community College, was another key Tide target. The Brooklyn, New York native's recruitment had come down to a battle between Alabama and Texas A&M. But in something of a surprise, the big lineman decided for South Carolina. Saint Preux will join several former Dodge City players signed by the Gamecocks in recent years.

Alabama had also hoped to convince Smiths Station linebacker Mitchell Thomas to sign with the Tide. At one point Thomas had committed to Alabama, but he reneged and was obviously troubled by the staff changeover. Thomas signed with Notre Dame.

LeRon McClain is among the top fullback prospects in the nation.

Linebacker D.J. Norris of Pace, Florida was another prospect that the Tide had hoped to sway. Norris grew up an Alabama fan and took a long look at the Tide on his official visit. But in the end he stayed in-state, signing with the Florida State Seminoles.

Defensive end/tight end Mario Lane of Montgomery's Carver High School was projected as a "sign and place" for Alabama. Lane and the Tide had gone back and forth several times during the recruiting process, but he signed with Alabama State. Lane is expected to end up in junior college.

Blue-chip cornerback Antonio Cromartie of Tallahassee, Florida did not sign early in the day. He is scheduled to announce his decision on Wednesday night.

Punter Brandon Roberson of Northeast Mississippi Community College could also be a part of today's class, though his status is uncertain. Tide Head Coach Mike Price said Wednesday afternoon that adding a punter to the signing class was a possibility.

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