Williamson High quarterback JaMarcus Russell, Hoover wide receiver Chad Jackson and Grissom wideout Jayson Swain are three strong candidates.
However, no serious discussion of the subject would be complete without Opelika High's latest prep star being mentioned as one of the candidates. Tez Doolittle is a 6-2, 240-pound defensive end who will also see duty at fullback as a senior for Coach Spence McCracken's Bulldogs.
Tez Doolittle is a two-way standout.
Doolittle broke into the starting lineup on defense as a sophomore on a very strong team that made a serious run at a state title. He played both ways as a junior on another strong team, although most of his action was on defense where he was credited with 86 tackles. He made 24 tackles behind the line of scrimmage, including six quarterback sacks. He ran the ball 48 times for 224 yards and nine touchdowns.
"I think I will mainly play offense this year, but coach told me if we run up against a big offense, I will mostly play defense," Doolittle tells Inside the Auburn Tigers. "If we run up against a big defense, I will mostly play offense."
Doolittle, who is in good shape academically, sounds like he is keeping an open mind about where he will play at the next level. "All of the college coaches I have talked to have asked me what position I want to play in college, but I told them it doesn't matter to me," he says. "I will play where the team I sign with wants me to play"
Auburn signed his friends and Opelika teammates from last season's team, defensive tackle Tommy "T.J." Jackson and quarterback/defensive back Will Herring. Doolittle says he is seriously considering joining them at Auburn, but says others are definitely in the picture, too, such as Miami, Georgia, Tennessee, LSU and Alabama. Even though Herring and Jackson will be trying to convince Doolittle to join them at AU, Doolittle says he may decide to get farther away from home for his college experience. "Tez is a very talented player," says Jackson, who played next to him on the defensive front the past two seasons.
"I am going to the summer camps at LSU, Auburn and I may go to one at Georgia," Doolittle notes. He attended the Jackson Hospital Capital City Combine in May although he had nothing to prove with early scholarship offers already coming in from a variety of colleges. "The main reason I came is my coach made me come to it because he thought it would be good for me," Doolittle says. Once there, he says he enjoyed the experience, even though it was an unseasonably cool and windy day with wet conditions.
While his 40-yard dash times on the wet artificial turf of 4.73 and 4.82 were not as fast as he has run before, Doolittle says he enjoyed the combine and notes the combine provided exposure from college coaches for some of his teammates. One in particular, quarterback Dumakas Snipes, caused a stir by setting the Capital City Combine 40-yard dash record by running a sizzling hand-timed 4.28.
"Dumakas was really moving," says Doolittle, who will dwarf the 5-7, 152-pounder in the OHS backfield this year. Snipes is expected to rotate at QB with another player and he will mainly run the option when he is in the game. Snipes will be getting looks from colleges, too, but they will probably come as a defensive back, a position he played in the past.
Doolittle says he is excited about the 2002 season and his last chance to win a Class 6A state title. "This team will have a lot of seniors who have played together since we were in seventh grade," he notes. "We have won a lot of games coming up and I think we will have a chance to put it all together and win the state championship as seniors." The Bulldogs were knocked out of the playoffs by eventual state champion Daphne.
In the Opelika High spring game, Doolittle bulled his way for 130 rushing yards in brief duty and it won't be surprising to see the senior put up much bigger numbers on offense than he did as a junior. Doolittle says his focus will be on something else, though.
"I am trying to be a team leader this year," he says. "The other guys are going to be looking up to me. If I get tired at practice and start playing around, they will want to play around, too. When I go to practice I want to be about business and I want the whole team to be about business, too."
Tiger Ticket Extra: Doolittle's first name is Moses, but everybody in Opelika knowns him as "Tez," a shortened version of his middle name, Trettez. He has been a dominant athlete in Opelika going back to junior high school...Doolittle says he was not real surprised that Snipes was the fastest athlete at the Capital City Combine, but seeing the OHS player break the Montae Pitts' combine record was impressive. The quarterback had run a 4.38 prior to going to the combine in Montgomery. "I was hoping to run in the lower 4.3s, but 4.28 surprised me," says Snipes, who has played safety and running back. He is expected to spend most of his time on offense this season...Snipes says he plans to attend summer football camps at Auburn, Clemson and Southern Miss. "I might try to get to a couple more," adds Snipes. He has a 4.1 grade point average so academics won't be a problem.