With the mid-summer football lull now reaching its perigee, business is about to start picking up again in Tuscaloosa. Beginning on Sunday, July 12th, and running through Wednesday, July 22nd, Alabama will hold its second and final high school camp of the summer. This four day period expects to be a big one for the Tide, as many current commitments will be in Tuscaloosa, along with several other prospects we are pursuing hotly, plus many other prospects looking to impress the Tide's coaches in an effort to earn the ever coveted crimson and white offer. As I mentioned previously, space is becoming very limited in the Tide's 2010 class and thus the rate of commitments should begin to slow dramatically, but with that said summer camps are always a very active period, and no one should be surprised if the Tide adds more verbal commitments in the aftermath of the camp.
The hot talk of the past week has centered around Opelika athlete Corey Grant. The elusive Grant has told Andrew Bone that he is tiring of the recruiting process, and a decision is expected shortly. Previously it was a three team race between Alabama, Auburn, and Florida, but most now think the Gators are out and that Grant will stay in-state. For the Tide, Andrew Bone -- who, with a good personal relationship with Grant, is in a good position to know -- thinks the Tide leads, and he has also recently went on the record as saying that Grant has asked for one Alabama commitment's phone number (Philip Sims, I would imagine), and that he prefers to play slot receiver, not tailback. On the other hand, Grant is from Opelika and that is the single worst place in the state of Alabama to recruit, and undoubtedly the Tide's coaches would prefer him be an out-of-state prospect over that. Furthermore, he does have legitimate interest in Auburn, and has taken several unofficial visits to the Tiger campus recently, including taking his father to meet with Auburn offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn. At this point I imagine it could go either way and he may still be undecided at this point. Hopefully he will commit to the Tide sometime this week, but if he delays his decision until this weekend, he may be tipping his hand by which camp he attends. Alabama has a big camp this weekend, as does Auburn, and if he shows up at one of those two, that ought to tell you where he is headed. We'll just have to see how it plays out from here. There is plenty to feel positive about if you bleed crimson, but Auburn fans have plenty to feel positive about too, and there is enough out there to make you legitimately concerned as an Alabama fan. If the Tide can pull Grant, it'll be a huge recruiting coup literally from the heart of enemy territory. On the other hand, if Chizik and company can do the trick, Grant will be the first Auburn commitment from a prospect that Alabama pursued heavily since Mike McNeil committed to the Tigers in January of 2007. Fingers crossed.
Demarco Cobbs recently attended the big summer camp at USC, and most thought the Trojans were his leader after that. Later reports had Cobbs trying to commit to USC, but Carroll and company chose not to accept his commitment, all of which seemed highly likely when Cobbs revealed his top six a few days later and the Trojans were nowhere to be found. This could all be great news for the Tide. USC ought to be out of the picture now, Oklahoma often struggles to get players out of Tulsa area, Texas almost always stays solely in-state in its recruiting, and Arkansas doesn't seem to be in serious contention. Given his very close relationship with Alabama head coach Nick Saban, the smart money may very well be that he ends up in Tuscaloosa. It's obviously still very early and that could easily change, but you do have to feel a bit bullish right now on our chances with Cobbs.
Victor Beasley continues to send his stock through the roof. He recently dominated a Scout.com 7-on-7 camp in Mountain Brook, and it's only a matter of time before he gets a big boost from the recruiting "experts." It's obvious that the Tide has a huge lead here, but his parents are not going to let him commit until later in the year after he's taken some official visits, namely to Duke (Beasley is a great student as well, hence the interest here). Ordinarily that would be cause for concern, but Beasley himself told Andrew Bone that he didn't care what schools offered down the stretch, he had already gotten the one offer he wanted all along. Again, things can change, but for now it looks like Beasley will wear crimson.
Speaking of theoreticals, if things hold as expected with Victor Beasley, you really do have to wonder what that does for the Tide's recruitment of LaDarius Owens. We have gone very hard after him to this point, and I think he's very high on our staff's overall board. On the other hand, with most expecting C.J. Mosley to end up in Tuscaloosa, why bother with Owens? He would play outside linebacker at Alabama, and with Mosley, Beasley, and (probably) Devonta Bolton in this class -- not to mention already having Jerrell Harris and Jonathon Atchison in Tuscaloosa -- exactly what is the marginal value of getting a guy like Owens at that point? At some point, the depth chart at linebacker simply makes the marginal value of getting him almost zero. Again, I think he's a fine player who will do well in the SEC, but as long as things go as expected with Beasley, you cannot help but wonder if we'll quickly turn a bit indifferent on the Jess Lanier product.
And speaking of C.J. Mosley, most still still feel optimistic on the Tide's chances with him. He will be visiting Auburn for their one-day camp on the 18th, but considering he will likely be in Tuscaloosa for our camp immediately after that, it shouldn't be that big of an issue. Furthermore, with a bad season likely in store for Auburn, they will probably hit their peak with Mosley this weekend, and if they cannot get the job done then (which no one expects them to), you really just have to think it won't happen. Mosley has played it quite this summer, visiting only one camp, the first Alabama summer camp. He did not attend the Big Cat Weekend. Also, it's quite nice to hear Mosley speak so well so frequently of Alabama's academics, as he is a very good student in the classroom and that will likely be a determining factor in his ultimate decision. We'll have to wait a while on this young man, but things still look good for the Tide.
One of the bigger surprises of the week has been Nashville's offensive tackle prospect James Stone. Many previously considered the highly-touted, highly intelligent Stone as likely going to Tennessee, but recent rumblings have many Tennessee fans worried that the Tide may very well go into the state and get top talent. I had previously written off Stone a bit, but I think we should keep a closer eye on him now.
The other big surprise of the week came from Illinois wide receiver Kyle Prater. Many experts consider the 6'5 Prater the #1 receiver in the country, and he has generally spoken highly of the Tide, but no one really expected a whole lot out of it. Despite that, Prater surprised many last week when he announced his final four schools as Alabama, Illinois, Oklahoma, and USC. In particular, Philip Sims has been in contact with Prater, and it now seems that the Tide will be getting an official visit from him. I imagine he probably ends up with the Illini, but anything can happen, and it's great to see the Tide in such strong contention for a recruit that we would normally never even have on our radar screen.
Vincent Sanders has continued to make people think it's an Alabama v. Mississippi State battle for his services. Many expected him to follow his 2009 teammate Pat Patterson to Oxford, but with him deciding the skip the upcoming Ole Miss camp, that seems less and less likely. At this point, I doubt Patterson has a firm offer from the Tide, but he's going to wait until closer to NSD to announce, and if we want him, you have to like our chances of getting him. As an aside, normally it would help his case that he is a versatile athlete that could play safety, but with Nick Perry and Jarrick Williams on board, not to mention Keenan Allen still out there, I do not see us taking him on as a safety, so that probably does not help his chances with the Tide that much.
Hopefully this weekend will be the weekend that we lock up the services of tight end Brian Vogler. This is all speculation on my part, but Vogler has said before that he wants to have an overnight trip to Tuscaloosa before he commits, and I would hope that he would come up for the camp this weekend, stay overnight, and commit shortly thereafter. Most think we'll eventually get Vogler, and considering he plans on making his decision before the start of the high school football season (which, to most recruits, means the start of Fall practice) you would reasonably have to expect something to come fairly soon. Again, hopefully we can seal the deal for Mr. Vogler in the coming days.
Finally, we'll close with some quick hitters...
Rivals will be releasing the updated Rivals 100 and Rivals 250 next Monday, and the initial team rankings will be announced the following Monday. Keep your eye on Harrison Jones in the coming couple of weeks. We'll find out this week if Pinson defensive lineman Carlos Gray will get an Alabama offer before the season starts. Lincoln tailback D.J. Howard may get an Alabama offer, depending on his camp performance. Philip Sims turned in a great performance at the Super Seven quarterback camp in Hawai'i over the Fourth of the July weekend; he may get his fifth star with Rivals next week. The Tide may turn up the heat on Louisiana wide receiver prospect Curtis Carter if we miss on Corey Grant. Ditto for Kenny Shaw, though FSU currently leads for him. Bobby Massie has still not qualified at Ole Miss, and is currently taking two summer classes at an undisclosed high school in an attempt to do so. Five-star Florida commitment Matt Elam now plans to take an official visit to Alabama.