29 April 2008
| Much has been
made about Alabama’s 2008 recruiting class; ranked #1 in the nation by everyone except for ESPN, who weeks after signing a television deal with the ACC managed to squeeze two ACC teams ahead of the Tide.
The Tide signed 32 players in February, with 2 of those (Chris Jackson & Corey Smith) enrolling in January and back-counting towards the 2007 class. Of the 30 remaining guys, Bama can only enroll 25 for the fall semester.
The problem, at the moment, rests with the fact that Bama does not have room under the NCAA’s scholarship cap of 85 to bring in 25. As of today, Bama stands at 66 active scholarship athletes, meaning that something has to give. Specifically, there have to be 6 current Bama players cease to be Bama players in order to make room for 25 newcomers in the fall.
It is important to note that this does not have to be fully worked out until Bama releases its 105 man roster at the beginning of fall practice, so there is time.
Here's how it currently stands:
: Antoine Caldwell, Marlon Davis, Bobby Greenwood, Charles Hoke, Jimmy Johns, Rashad Johnson, Zeke Knight, Travis McCall, Lionel Mitchell, Will Oakley, Nikita Stover, Nick Walker, John Parker Wilson
: Eryk Anders, Javier Arenas, Sam Burnthall, Evan Cardwell, Glenn Coffee, Drew Davis, Brandon Deaderick, Brandon Fanney, Prince Hall, Baron Huber, Marquis Johnson, Mike Johnson, Mike McCoy, Colin Peek, Cory Reamer, Chris Rogers, Ali Sharrief, Andre Smith, Roy Upchurch, Lorenzo Washington, Justin Woodall
: Earl Alexander, Luther Davis, Preston Dial, Terry Grant, Charlie Higgenbotham, Kareem Jackson, Charlie Kirschman, Rolando McClain, Greg McElroy, Brian Motley, Taylor Pharr, David Ross, Travis Sikes, Milton Talbert, Chavis Williams
: Josh Chapman, Patrick Crump, Nick Fanuzzi, Tarance Farmer, Nick Gentry, Brandon Gibson, Demetrius Goode, Jeramie Griffin, Darius Hanks, Jennings Hester, Chris Jackson, Marquis Maze, Alfred McCullough, Corey Smith, Chris Underwood, William Vlachos, Alex Watkins
When trying to figure out who the 6 players are going to be, the progression should be:
: Of the players that missed time during spring practice due to injury, only 2 were considered serious – Zeke Knight’s heart condition & Lionel Mitchell’s back. Will Oakley has had chronic problems with his hamstrings and shoulders.
: As of today Prince Hall is the only player serving a suspension, and his is indefinite.
Guys buried on the depth chart
: Sam Burnthall, Travis Sikes, Milton Talbert & Charlie Kirschman are 4 guys who have yet to see meaningful playing time in their careers at Bama. Burnthall & Sikes have changed positions several times in an attempt to find a place where they can contribute. Talbert & Kirschman were signed to play in a 4-3 defense, and their size & skill sets don’t necessarily translate to a 3-4 base.
: Obviously you can’t predict a surprise, but you have to take the possibility into consideration… which is why some decisions won’t be made until they have to be made. Things that can pop up include: Academic issues, conduct issues, or a player deciding to give up football (see Andy Davis last year).
Much has been made recently about this issue, but it is worth noting that Nick Saban is known for his mastery of organizational issues, and this would be an organizational issue. My guess is that he has a good idea of 8-10 players who are the strongest candidates to not be a part of the team next year, and he’s waiting to see how things play out before making any final decisions.
Of course, once the Tide gets the active number down to 60 to accommodate 25 incoming freshmen, then Bama has to figure out how to fit 30 guys into 25 spots. Chances are that things will likely work themselves out in that regard. There are still a few guys with academic work to do, and Destin Hood is a strong candidate to forgo college for a career with Major League Baseball.
We’re roughly 100 days away from the beginning of fall practice, and we’ll soon begin a player-by-player look at the Tide roster for the 2008 season.