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January 5th Recruiting Update

We are now only about one month away from National Signing Day, and this recruiting class for the Crimson Tide is almost completely finished up. Unlike in past years in which we had a lot of late commitments, Coach Nick Saban has almost entirely filled this class up with still a month to go until National Signing Day, and as a result we will see very few commitments in the final weeks.

At the moment, this recruiting class currently includes 26 commitments, and it comes in very highly touted. It is currently rated second in the country by both Scout and Rivals, and there is a legitimate chance that it finishes as the top recruiting class in the country. In all likelihood, this will be the best recruiting class to come to Alabama since the early 1990's under Gene Stallings, and it will be the best by a landslide. Moreover, there are very few worries academically with this class. There are a couple of guys who are still question marks, but Saban does not pursue players who cannot get it done in the classroom, and it shows. This will be nothing like the high academic casualties like we saw in the late 1990's under Mike Dubose.

It seems like, by the best guesstimates, that we will sign approximately 30 players in this class. Do the basic math, and it seems like we have only about four spots left open at the moment.

So, let's breakdown the potential candidates for the final slots:

Julio Jones: Without a doubt, Julio Jones is priority number one. He is the number one overall player in the country, he's at a need position, and he grew up in our backyard. You do the math on how badly we need to sign this kid. The great thing about Julio, though, is his low-key demeanor. He's not like many prospects, who thrive on the attention that recruiting brings. If anything, he is the antithesis of all of that. At this point, he hasn't even named any major favorites, much less a leader. Nevertheless, all signs point to Julio coming to Alabama. After all, he is from Alabama, we are the state school, he apparently grew up an Alabama fan, he could start immediately at Alabama, his teammate is committed to Alabama, and he has been in Tuscaloosa almost every weekend. It could work out otherwise, but it seems like Julio should sign with Alabama on National Signing Day.

Jerrell Harris: One of the top linebackers in the country, Harris was considered an Auburn lean coming into this season. In most years, Harris would probably be headed to Auburn, but the arrival of Nick Saban has made it a very tough decision. He has not named a leader, though he is likely to stay in-state. Recently, Andrew Bone said it was a "gut feeling" that he was a slight Auburn lean at the moment, so perhaps that remains. On the other hand, Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp has been recruiting him throughout the process, and he has left Auburn for Texas, so that may turn things in favor of Alabama a bit. Either way, he's an extremely high priority, and we will continue to put on the full court press. He'll almost certainly announce between Alabama and Auburn near, or on, National Signing Day.

Robert Quinn: After successfully overcoming emergency brain surgery, Quinn remains one of the top defensive end prospects in the country. We seemingly were on the outside looking in prior to the surgery, but apparently he and Saban bonded in the immediate aftermath, and we seem to be his big leader. He is one of the top ten defensive ends in the country, and we will hold a spot open for him. He will likely take his official visits and then make a decision, most likely resulting in him choosing Alabama. He is apparently rated higher with our staff than either Glenn Harbin and William Green, and we will likely take him over those two.

Alonzo Lawrence: Only just recently did Lawrence burst onto the scene, but he has now appeared in a big way. He shut down a slightly injured Julio Jones in the Alabama v. Mississippi All Star Game, and he is now rated a four-star prospect by both recruiting services, and is now generally considered one of the nation's top ten cornerbacks. He currently sports offers from nearly all of the top programs, and he could go anywhere in the country. That said, he currently says Alabama is the leader, and is visiting on January 11th. The real question with Lawrence is whether or not we will take him. He is not a lock to qualify academically, and Saban and company simply are not going to waste spots on players who will not qualify academically. In short, if we want him he is ours, but if the coaching staff is not convinced he will qualify then we will pass on him and he'll go somewhere else. Academics, and not athletic ability, are the major concern with him.

T.J. Bryant: This young man is rated a five star cornerback by Scout, and could literally go to any school in the country. He is from Tallahassee -- actually the same school that turned out Sam Matison, Antonio Cromartie, and Pat Watkins -- and many expected him to be FSU bound. And while that may still be the case, it's not a given. LSU was thought to be one of his very top favorites, and likely still is, but they were hurt by the departure of Bo Pelini, who Bryant was particularly fond of. Alabama is still very much in the mix, and he will be visiting Alabama along with a slew of others on January 11th. Moreover, he is very good friends with Tide commitment Melvin Ray, and that is helping our cause. We would most likely take a commitment from him over Lawrence simply because he does not have the academic concerns, but it is going to be very tough to get him signed, sealed, and delivered. If we do though, the number one recruiting class in the country is likely ours.

William Green: At this point in time, Green simply does not seem like he is going to be heading to Alabama. A few days ago he went on the record talking about how Florida was probably his leader, but that at times he wished he had committed earlier in the process to Alabama. With Quinn likely coming on board, I just don't think there is room for Green. I believe he wants to come to Alabama, but he has waited too late and the ship has largely passed. I think he is most likely behind both Quinn and Harbin on our board, and unless something big happens, there is unlikely to be room for him. Unless something big happens with the guys in front of him, I imagine he commits to Florida. I think Green's recruitment will teach a lot of 2009 prospects a lesson: If you really want to come to Alabama, you better commit early while there is a definite spot open, because if you wait until the weeks before National Signing Day, the ship may have already sailed.

Glenn Harbin: The feeling on Harbin is much like the feeling with Green. Our priority list likely goes Quinn, Harbin, and finally Green. Unless we really strike out on a lot of the top prospects, namely Robert Quinn, I'm not sure that we have room for Harbin. With only four spots or so left, I really do not see us taking two defensive ends, and that will likely be have to be the case to get Harbin in this class, unless Quinn passes. Though it would be nice to further solidify the Mobile area, I think Harbin may very well find himself in the same situation as William Green, a prospect who waited too long and once he got to the dock realized that the ship had set sail.

Antoine McClain: Initially considered an Auburn lean, McClain is seemingly on the outside looking in with Alabama. He has long considered Alabama, and it was thought at one point that we could have gotten his commitment had we wanted it. However, McClain is not a lock to qualify academically, and we had several other offensive linemen rated above him. He recently eliminated Alabama from consideration, but now it is rumored that we are back in the mix. I think we would get him if we really put on the press, but I'm not sure we really want him. We already have three offensive linemen committed, all three of which will qualify academically, and what we really need is a guard, not another tackle commitment. McClain may somehow end up in this class, but this odds are against that happening.

Tyler Edwards: A very talented tight end out of Louisiana, Edwards is an LSU legacy whose brother played for Saban's 2003 national championship team at LSU. He has been torn throughout the entire recruiting process between Alabama and LSU, and he has very much been blown away by Alabama and Saban, but the slight consensus is that he will be a Bayou Bengal. The fact that we were able to make an LSU legacy incredibly torn in his decision speaks volumes about the strength of Alabama's recruiting at the moment, but he is nevertheless likely headed to LSU. We'll find out for sure today at halftime of the Under Armour All-American Game, but the smart money is on LSU.

Aundre Dean: One of the most highly-touted tailback recruits in the country, Dean was originally committed to UCLA but backed away when they fired Karl Dorrell. He will visit Alabama in the coming days, and he is a possibility, though I feel it's a bit unlikely. I imagine he will confirm his commitment to UCLA once he gets to know the new coaching staff, but considering he is visiting I imagine he is worth mentioning.

Omoregie Uzzi: Rated as one of the top guards in the country, Uzzi is a four star prospect with offers from a variety of top schools, such as Alabama and Georgia. The Georgia native will be visiting Alabama on January 11th, and he is a possibility. If he were a tackle prospect, we likely would not take his commitment, but we are in need of a guard and Uzzi is the best left on the board. I'm not sure of our chances, honestly, simply because Uzzi is a bit low-key, but he is a legitimate possibility.

And that basically rounds up the list of remaining possibilities. Again, the spots are very limited at this point, and most guys are on the outside looking in.

So how will it all end up?

My dream scenario would be us signing Julio Jones, Jerrell Harris, Robert Quinn, and T.J. Bryant. Realistically, though, I imagine we sign Julio Jones, Robert Quinn, Alonzo Lawrence, and one of Harris / Bryant / Green / Harbin / Edwards / McClain / Dean / Uzzi. Either way, things are looking great for the Crimson Tide on the recruiting front.