Bama signs eight defensive recruits

Though the recruiting process is not finished, 17 athletes signed with Alabama on Wednesday. Several are capable of contributing at more than one position, but at eight are likely slated for defense.

Chris Felder (pictured above), CB

5-11, 170, Camden, Wilcox-Central HS

Felder was accompanied on his official visit by his uncle, Shannon Felder, a former player at Alabama, who coached Chris his final season of high school football. Though he played both offense and defense in high school, Chris is rated one of the very best defensive back prospects in the state. He could play either safety or cornerback, but corner is his likely destination. Felder's qualifying status is uncertain.

Chris played quarterback and defensive back his senior season and was rated the state's top defensive back. As quarterback, he passed for 990 yards and 15 touchdowns, while rushing for 776 yards and six TDs. On defense, he had 36 tackles, four interceptions and one fumble recovery which he returned for a touchdown.

Eric Gray, CB

5-11, 190, Trinity, West Morgan HS

Eric Gray

Gray played mostly running back this past season, but he's considered probably the top cover-corner prospect in the state. Gray attended the NIKE Camp at Tuscaloosa this summer, impressing onlookers with his ability to shut down even the best receivers. He committed early to Alabama and held firm the whole way. Gray's former teammate, Chauncey Malone, signed with the Tide last year but had to start off in junior college. There are no real problems expected with Gray qualifying.

As a senior runningback, Eric had 1,965 yards and 21 touchdowns on 160 carries. On defense, he had 30 tackles and four interceptions while helping West Morgan to an 11-1 record. As a junior, Gray earned All-State honors after rushing for 1,154 yards and scoring 14 touchdowns. His longest run was a 95-yarder against Danville. On defense, he had 43 tackles and three interceptions. For his career, Eric had 4,504 yards rushing and 50 touchdowns. He also had 175 tackles and 13 interceptions as well.

Terrance Jones, LB/SS

6-0, 205, Northport, Tuscaloosa County HS

Terrance Jones

A teammate of LaRon McClain's, Jones hung in with Alabama throughout the recruiting process. Some pundits claim he's a tad short for linebacker, but he was an extremely productive player on one of the state's powerhouse teams. Jones' high school coach is adamant that he'll be a productive college defender. Jones has work to do in order to become fully eligible, though partial qualifier status is a possibility.

Terrance led the Wildcats in tackles three consecutive years and amassed over 300 career tackles. His senior season, Terrance contributed 117 tackles and seven sacks and three fumble recoveries. He was an All-West Alabama and All-State selection as a junior and senior.

Dominic Lee, DT

6-2, 295, Birmingham, Huffman HS

Dominic Lee

Considered the top defensive tackle prospect in the state, Lee committed early to Alabama and held firm throughout all the chaos of recent weeks. Because of his name, Lee was quickly tagged "The Dominator" by media members. But he laughs and explains that his real nickname is "Big Smooth." Lee would be excellent at either offensive guard or defensive tackle, but he'll likely play defense at Alabama. Lee's parents are both big Crimson Tide fans, and his father explained in no uncertain terms that the staff changeover meant nothing to Dominic, "He committed to a school, not a coach." Lee is also an excellent student, and qualifying is no problem.

Dominic earned 6A Lineman of the Year honors. He played exclusively on defense as a senior and turned in 78 tackles, nine sacks, one caused fumble, one recovery and one blocked kick. He was a second-team USA Today All-America, a member of the Super All-State team and was a 1st team All-Region, All-South and the No. 3 prospect in Alabama by BorderWars.

Earnest Nance, OLB

6-2, 210, Courtland, Courtland HS

Earnest Nance

Tide fans are very familiar with Nance, since he was a member of last year's signing class as well. Rehabilitation from a knee injury prevented him from reporting last August, so he resigned as a part of the 2003 class. Nance starred at both tailback and linebacker in high school, but he was recruited for defense. The injured knee was checked out by the Tide staff on his official visit, and it is expected to be 100 percent by the time Nance reports next August. Nance is already qualified.

Earnest sustained a devastating knee injury last season, signed with Alabama, but did not enroll so he could rehab his knee. He played in just five games his senior season, rushing for 827 yards and nine touchdowns before injuring his knee. He also had 84 tackles through those five games. He had 1,101 yards rushing and 121 tackles as a junior. His senior season, Earnest was selected to The Mobile Press Register's Elite 18 team.

Eric Packer, DB/WR/Ath

5-9, 184, Camden, Wilcox-Central HS

Eric Packer

Suited for any of a number of positions, Packer could contribute at running back, wide receiver or defensive back. Packer's qualifying status is uncertain.

Packer has speed to burn. He has been timed at 4.32 in the 40 and recorded at 41-inch vertical jump. As a sophomore, Packer ran for 1,700 yards and 25 touchdowns. His junior season, Packer rushed for 2,400 yards and 28 TDs. This past season he added 1,576 more yards rushing and another eight TDs. He also had over 300 yards receiving and another two touchdowns. He has seen action at cornerback.

Tyrone Prothro, CB/KR

5-10, 176, Heflin, Cleburne County HS

Tyrone Prothro

Described by many as a "David Palmer type player," Prothro is small but powerful with excellent quickness in the open field. That description is probably unfair, but on the high school level Prothro was a dominant offensive player. However, most experts project him as a classic "cover corner," capable of shutting down opposing receivers. Prothro has some work to do in the classroom, but he should be able to qualify.

A teammate of current Tider Todd Bates, Tyrone played cornerback and runningback for Cleburne County. He amassed 8,099 career all-purpose yards, the third-best mark in Alabama high school history. He also accounted for 92 career touchdowns. In a state 4A playoff game against Brooks, he ran 170 yards in the 28-7 win. His junior season, Tyrone was perhaps the state's most versatile player, rushing for 1,031 yard and 11 TDs on 152 attempts. He also had 27 receptions for 508 yards and six TDs; returned 32 kickoffs for 804 yards and three TDs and had two punt returns for touchdowns. Playing defensive back in three games as a junior, Tyrone had six interceptions.

Demarcus Waldrop, OLB/SS

6-0, 200, Pinson, Pinson Valley HS

Demarcus Waldrop

Slightly undersized for linebacker, Waldrop was very productive on the field in high school and could project at safety on the college level. He liked the Tide throughout the recruiting process, and committed quickly once he received a firm scholarship offer. Waldrop was described by his high school coach as a sideline-to-sideline linebacker, capable of dictating the action during play. Waldrop projects as a full qualifier.

A four-year starter at Pinson Valley, Demarcus had 157 tackles, 15 sacks and two interceptions as a senior. His junior year, he turned in 142 tackles, nine sacks, 14 stops behind the line and three interceptions to earn All-Metro and All-State honors. He was also a star on the track team, finishing 3rd in the 100-meter dash at the 6A state meet.

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