Who Avoids a Redshirt?

Now that signing day has passed us by, it's now time to take a hard look at which players have the best opportunity of avoiding a redshirt next season. We've already identified three future Tigers that seem to fit the bill quite nicely!

Here's an early look at who we would project at having the best chance to avoid a redshirt next season. We'll breakdown the 2003 class further in the coming days, and also in our Recruiting Yearbook, which will be released in early March, but for now, these three look like good bets.

ROV Maurice Nelson
The coaching staff has already hinted to the state's top strong safety prospect that he'll have the opportunity to play as a true freshman and we tend to agree. Nelson comes from one of the top strength programs in the state at Crestwood High School, and he'll use that strength, in combination with his uncanny ability in pass coverage, to see early playing time his freshman year.

Coach Lovett wants Nelson to play as the rover in his defensive scheme, and by all accounts, Nelson appears to be one of the most physically gifted players in the 2003 class. "They've told me to be ready to play and that looking at their current numbers I could be in a position to contribute next year, so I'll be ready," said Nelson.

"Having his brother Roosevelt here will give him a good idea of the intensity that is required," said Tommy Bowden. "With the loss of Eric Sampson and Ronny Delusme being hurt, there will be some opportunities for playing time there."

PK Jad Dean
What else can you say about a kid that can make field goals from as far away as 70-yards? Dean represented the Palmetto state in the Shrine Bowl this past December and promptly drilled his only kickoff through the back of the end zone. The senior out of Greenwood has been told that he'll compete to handle the kickoff duties next season, and don't be surprised to see him doing just that in the season opener against Georgia.

"Coach Lovett said they want me to handle kickoffs next season, so that's what I'm getting ready for," said Dean. "They said that Aaron Hunt has the field goals pretty much nailed down but that I can go and compete there too."

CB Brian Staley
Staley has absolutely dominated the competition at Georgia Military the last two seasons, notching more than 15 interceptions and returning 6 of those picks for touchdowns in one season. He was a two time JUCO All-American and probably looks to be the favorite to lock down a spot on the two deep at corner headed into the fall.

"He'll be prepared and mature enough to come in and compete for a position early," said Bowden. "He's got some good experience against some quality competition, and he could have the opportunity to play early."

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