13 October 2008
Here is a quick position-by-position rundown of where the Tide stands for 2009 recruiting:
Looks like A.J. McCarron will be our only signee. McCarron's stats are, predictably, well down this year after the graduation of a slew of stars from last year's 5A state champs at St. Paul's, but the Tide staff doesn't seem to be in much of a mood to go into emergency hunt mode as a result. In other words, we're happy with him.
NOTE: Top 2010 target Terance Broadway of . . . Baton Rouge, Louisiana . . . has already named the Tide as his leader.
Once again we have one guy, it looks like we're done, and we're very happy with the guy we've got. Although top running back prospects like Eddie Lacy and Kendrick Hardy remain interested in the Tide, numbers will probably limit us to signing Trent Richardson of Pensacola.
Richardson started the season ranked as Rivals' #2 running back and #11 prospect overall nationally, and is now the #7 prospect overall and climbing. One reason he is climbing is that 419-yard, 6-TD game a few weeks back. Trent is taking his visits and is making public noises as if he is genuinely looking around, but he is a regular visitor at Bama games and the insiders say we don't need to worry about this one.
This may sound crazy, but it says right here Richardson will start for the Tide next year.
Oh, by the way, we have also gotten the commitment of 240-pound running back Mike Marrow out of Toledo, Ohio, but looking at the numbers, I'm saying Marrow is linebacker all the way.
Of interest, we aren't really strongly pursuing any tight end prospects. What makes that of interest is that, with McCall and Walker graduating this year, we do not figure to have a large-sized tight end on the roster next year, and this after several years of having a rotation consisting of tight ends weighing in at over 250.
A possibility: a true freshman defensive lineman like Michael Williams, Undra Billingsley, or Glenn Harbin, or an incoming freshman DL like William Ming, will convert to offense. Otherwise, we will have to make some changes in our way of doing things on offense.
It's not inconceivable, especially with the large number of wideouts we are chasing, that we are contemplating going to a four-or-more-wides set as a standard offense in the future.
Here's where it gets interesting. Remember, now, that only two wides are graduating this year, and neither Nikita Stover nor Will Oakley are among the Tide's leading receivers.
We have already received a commitment from 4-star Michael Bowman out of Georgia.
Kevin Norwood out of D'Iberville, Mississippi is only a 3-star according to Rivals, but insiders say that he will shoot up the charts after his film gets around and that he is one of the highest, if not THE highest, wideout on our board. That's saying something, if you'll read on.
4-star Mississippi speedster Chad Bumphis has said we are his leader. So has 4-star Magnolia State receiver Patrick Patterson, ranked by Rivals as the nation's #45 overall prospect, and also ranked #1 for hands among wide receivers by Rivals. We only recently offered Patterson, who had actually already said the Tide was his favorite before we offered. We are also widely thought to be a lock for Gadsden 4-star Kendall Kelly.
Even better, we are said to have a strong shot, and may even be in the driver's seat, for Bastrop, Louisiana's Rueben Randle, a 5-star and the nation's #1 wideout according to both Rivals and Scout. Should we land Randle, that would make the second year in a row the Tide has signed the nation's top wideout, and you would certainly expect that the nation's top quarterbacks would be lining up at our door next year after that.
Who knows how all this is going to pan out, but it sounds like a series of very nice problems to have.
With (probably) three guys leaving this year and with at least four guys who should be in our rotation - B.J. Stabler, Alex Stadler, Cody Davis, and Patrick Crump - having already left the team, building depth on the OL figures to be a priority.
But before you get to depth, you've got to have starters. Although it's unusual for a true freshman to be competitive on the offensive line, we will most likely have three spots open in 2009, and some of the youngsters on our recruiting list have a chance of filling them.
That starts with 6'7", 325-pound D.J. Fluker of Foley. Fluker started the season as a high 4-star and Rivals #42 prospect in the country as a defensive lineman. However, he has apparently outgrown that position - he may still be growing - and Foley moved him to OL. Shortly thereafter, film emerged of Fluker tossing around high school defensive linemen like rag dolls, and he is now a 5-star and the #20 prospect nationally as an offensive lineman.
Fluker is a Bama commit, but there have been worrisome signs that he is still looking around. He is a must-keep.
Almost as big a prospect - well, even bigger, actually - is 5-star prep school standout Bobby Massie of Hargrave Military Academy. Hargrave is famous for steering its 19-year-olds back toward their original commitment, but Massie never committed anywhere. The 6'8", 335-pound tackle is said to harbor keen interest in Bama.
6'2", 329-pound commit Chance Warmack is not as high on recruiting radars as blue-chippers Fluker and Massie, but he is said to have been most impressive in summer workouts at the Capstone. Warmack will enroll in the spring, which will give him one chunky leg up on the competition for playing time in the fall.
For the rest, see "BIG HANDSOMES" below.
So far, we have garnered commitments from three true defensive linemen, four-stars William Ming and Darrington Sentimore, and three-star Anthony Orr. All three guys are about the same size - 6'4", 260-ish - and about the same speed - a reported 4.8 for Ming and Orr, 4.6 for Sentimore (but take reported 40 times with a huge grain of salt). Sentimore is from Louisiana, Ming and Orr Alabama natives.
The Tide appears to be in the market for a speed end-rusher, and has attracted second looks from 4-star Miami commit Olivier Vernon and 4-star FSU commit Ed Stinson, either of whom would fill that bill.
At most schools, you'd call 'em "big uglies," but this is Alabama and we go for a higher quality. After all, who could see a face like this one
and not want to just kiss it?
In case you're wondering where the OL and DL numbers the Tide is obviously looking for will come from, look no further than this section, which houses a bunch of big, handsome guys who might play OL and might play DL, depending on the Tide's needs. The chances are that most of them wind up on the offensive side of the ball.
Big handsome commits all tip the scales at from 280 to 308 pounds. They include Darius McKellar, Kellen Williams, Anthony Steen and Quinton Dial.
Those guys are all 3-stars, but Bama also hopes to add the biggest and handsomest of 'em all, 4-star Brandon Moore of Montgomery Carver. Moore is 6'4", 313. We hear that it's only a matter of time for Moore.
Bama is not terribly deep at this position, and 2009 figures to be the last year for Brandon Fanney, Corey Reamer - and unfortunately, for Rolando McClain as well, if a recent report from an anonymous NFL GM
is to be believed, as it almost surely is. So we wouldn't mind getting a few.
The quantity may not happen, but the quality looks good. Along with the aforementioned Marrow, already committed is Andalusia's Nico Johnson, who as the #30 Rivals prospect nationally is about the highest-rated four-star in the land. A quality senior season might get Nico that extra star.
Also said to be a heavy Bama lean is Stevenson's Tana Patrick, another high 4-star, who is Rivals' #76 prospect nationally.
The #71 prospect nationally is 215-pound St. Louis speedster Ronnie Wingo, who would probably project at linebacker if he came to Bama. The Tide is currently looking over Missouri's shoulder at Wingo, but he has shown real interest and is almost certain to visit in January - and anything goes if we get him in-house for a weekend.
So far, we have only taken commitments from a couple of guys. One is small, speedy cover corner Gerald West out of Mobile, whose offer sheet - including, among others, Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, and South Carolina - belies his three-star status. Another is four-star smashmouth safety Rod Woodson of Mississippi.
Woodson is not a sure thing to qualify, but take note: if he makes the team, he may be the hardest hitter on the squad the minute he steps on the field. I'm probably just thinking silly thoughts here, but the names that come to mind when I watch Woodson's film are Jack Tatum, Ronnie Lott, and Ken Houston.
There are still question marks on Woodson's pass coverage. If that turns out to be not so great, we might see Woodson at linebacker - which could possibly send Ronnie Wingo to safety, should we ink Wingo.
Leading our target list is the nation's top cornerback and Rivals #17 overall national recruit, Dre Kirkpatrick of Gadsden, a tall, speedy cover corner who can also tackle. There's not really a corner position opening at Bama for 2009, but Kirkpatrick and Alonzo Lawrence might wind up having something to say about that.
Atlanta's Branden Smith, who had expressed keen interest in Bama and was thought to be a Bama-UGA tossup, was seen to be none-too-happy after the bloodbath in Athens a few weeks back, so we can probably scratch him off the list. But diminutive speedster Eric Gordon of Nashville is still giving Bama a hard look.
Four-star athlete Stephen Gilmore will announce his decision on Wednesday, and it will be Bama or South Carolina. Gilmore probably projects as a corner at Bama, although safety is not out of the question.