Much has been made recently of the large size of the 2008 recruiting class, and many have openly wondered exactly how we are going to make it all fit. So, I figure it is time to pen a piece that details how we are most likely going to make it fit.
To begin with, it is being erroneously mentioned in several circles that our class contains either 32 or 33 signees, which is entirely false. Demerius Darius technically signed a letter of intent, but everyone knows he is headed to junior college, and the actual signing was nothing more than a token gesture of a firm offer that will await him in two years if he successfully completes the academic requirements at the junior college level. Moreover, two other players -- Chris Jackson and Corey Smith -- enrolled early and actually count as part of the 2007 class. The reports of this class containing 32 or 33 players are simply not true. In terms of the limit to 25 scholarships awarded in a single year, this class contains only 30 players.
And in all actuality, it is probably going to contain only 29. Wesley Neighbors is most likely going to end up on the Bryant Scholarship and therefore will not count against the scholarship limitations, assuming he does not play in his first two years on campus. Considering that he is highly unlikely to do the latter, we will probably go ahead and create space for others by placing him on a Bryant Scholarship. Suddenly, this class falls down to only 29 players.
So, at the end of the day, despite all of this talk of more than 30 signees, we are effectively looking at 29 signees for 25 spots. In reality, we are only four players above the limit.
We're going to bring in 25 players this Fall, and to make it fit that is going to to require us to burn the candle a bit at both ends. First we have to trim the 29 down to 25, and then we have to clear out a bit of room for the 25 incoming players to be able to report this Fall without exceeding the NCAA mandated limit of 85 scholarship players. Fortunately, neither of the two are likely to present us any real problems.
On the former, trimming the 29 to 25, that is largely a situation that will take care of itself. We have a handful of players who are on the fence academically, and a few of those guys won't be able to qualify. Fortunately, the overwhelming majority of this class has no real academic concerns, but a handful won't qualify and those academic casualties will naturally trim this class to where it needs to be. In all likelihood, we will have either three or four academic casualties in this class -- most, if not all, of which will go to Hargrave or some similar prep school -- and that will trim us down to either 25 or 26 prospects. That will either be just the right amount, or if things go extremely well on the academic front, we will bring in 25 signees and then have one or two greyshirts. Long story short, it's just something that will naturally take care of itself.
On the latter, trimming the rest of the roster down to a point to where we can bring in 25 signees without exceeding the limit of 85, we should be able to do that relatively easy, as well. Contrary to some of the absurd drivel as of late, no one will be "run off" or anything of the sort. We will trim the roster with some combination of medical scholarships for those who cannot physically play anymore, voluntary transfers from those who are unlikely to contend for significant amounts of playing time, and perhaps other general screw-ups from players that will likely cause their careers to end at Alabama (see Elder).
On the medical scholarship front, we have several players who will probably end up going in that direction. Cody Davis is one of the leading candidates. His shoulder continues to pop out of place with any physical contact, despite surgeries to fix the condition, and even Saban has openly speculated that he may have to give up football. Chris Lett, too, may very well go in that direction as well, simply because he apparently cannot handle the high heat with his diabetic condition. B.J. Stabler, too, has had a lot of rumors swirling about his future, and he too may very well end up on medical scholarship given his chronic knee condition. And finally, given his latest setbacks, Zeke Knight may end up on medical scholarship as well. At this point, I think the odds are that once players report for Fall camp, it is likely to be released that at least three players have been moved to medical scholarship, and perhaps even four.
You can also safely factor in a couple of transfers as well. Some guys who are currently on scholarship simply will not be contending for any legitimate amount of playing time, and that usually brings up transfers to smaller programs. Zach Schreiber and Alex Stadler did this a year ago for that very same reason, and a couple of more will likely follow in their direction this season. And, of course, you also have to factor in the latest news regarding Jeremy Elder, which will free up another scholarship.
At the end of the day, we probably need to trim five or six scholarships from the current roster to be able to bring in a full allotment of 25 players this Fall without exceeding the limit of 85. That seemingly works out just fine for us. We are probably looking at three or four players going on medical scholarship, a couple of transfers, and then Jeremy Elder's scholarship being opened up as well. All told, we need to trim five or six scholarships, and we are looking at around six or seven scholarships to come open in the next few months.
Despite a lot of assertions to the contrary, this class isn't that big, and we should have no trouble making it fit.