Keep them coming and we'll have more of these...
Question #1: What position do you think some of the "athletes" capable of playing multiple positions in Alabama's 2008 recruiting class will be developed to play, particularly Burton Scott?
OTS: With most of them, it's just really hard to say at this point. A lot of variables can go into it, and with some of these guys it will all boil down to how the coaching staff expects them to progress physically.
That said, though, I don't think we have all of that many question marks right now. Aside from Scott (more on him in a bit), I don't think there will be a whole lot of surprises in the short-term. I would not be the least bit surprised to see Chris Jordan at linebacker, but then again we could certainly use a power back in the interim, so perhaps that won't happen right away. Unless Devonta Bolton qualifies, I think most people will settle into where they are commonly expected.
As for Scott, he's a tough read. We are definitely going to see him on offense in 2008, and that has been put on record several times with all of the talk of the "Uno" package. However, he is a great cornerback prospect, and the "Uno" package is likely a very limited situation that will only see a few touches a game. Unless the staff plans on developing Scott into an every-down wide receiver, I think we'll see him as a cornerback who moonlights with the ball in his hands on offense and special teams. I think he's too good of a cornerback prospect to keep him on offense unless you are going to eventually get 40-60 snaps per game out of him.
But oh my the temptation to keep him on offense will be huge. You watch the kid play, and from the opening seconds, two words are indelibly seared into your mind... David Palmer .
I do not envy the coach having to make that decision.
Question #2: What is the situation with Devonta Bolton? Is he going to make it, or exactly what is the deal?
OTS: At this point no one really knows for sure. More so than any other signee, things have been extremely tight-lipped on Bolton. All we know is that at this point he is not on campus. I would imagine that he is waiting on the results from a last-ditch effort to raise his ACT / SAT score, but that's all speculation on my part. I suppose we'll see in the coming weeks.
Question #3: After looking at the commitment lists, I cannot help but notice that we are apparently going to sign a lot of offensive linemen in this class. Exactly who are we still looking at, and how many do you think we'll end up taking?
OTS: You are correct in that we are definitely going after a lot of offensive linemen. That may very well be the number one priority in this recruiting class, and it shows. We already have three offensive linemen committed to us right now, and nearly everyone thinks now, and rightly so, that D.J. Fluker will end up on the offensive line and not at defensive tackle. Add it up and we have four committed right now.
Several more are still on the board, too, and we'll probably take at least one or two more. I don't think there is any way we will take more than six, but at this point I think the likely scenario is that we do take six. Morgan Moses is probably on the top of our list, but he'll probably stay in Virginia. Brandon Moore out of Montgomery is a fine prospect, and I do think we'll get him if we want him. Beyond that, Stavion Lowe out of Texas is looking hard at us and will visit soon, and Sam Simpson, the nation's top center prospect, is high on Alabama and it looks like we have a great shot at him.
Question #4: Do you think we will sign Dre Kirkpatrick?
OTS: Yes I do, and I really have no doubts about that either. We are dominating in-state recruiting, he has built relationships with many of the 2008 recruiting class, we got Jerrell Harris from the same program last year, and we will likely get his teammate Kendall Kelly too. I see absolutely no reason to objectively think that Kirkpatrick will not commit to Alabama. Much like Julio Jones, he may wait until National Signing Day, but when all is said and done the bottom line of his LOI will be inked in crimson.
Beyond that, it's just simple logic: Saban is going to strike out on elite in-state cornerback prospects about as often as Sinatra would strike out on whatever dame he had his eyes on at the time. It just doesn't happen.
Question #5: With the recent news regarding the status of Prince Hall, what do you think his future with the team is at the moment?
OTS: It's really hard to say at this point because nothing is set in stone. With that said, however, I personally am not reading too much into the recent news. Hall is probably back on track to rejoin the team, but that's a long way from it actually happening. If he does all that the Nicktator says he must do, I imagine he has a chance of rejoining the team, but again, it's just a chance, nothing is certain.
I'd speculate that a best-case scenario sees him playing against Arkansas. We need him against Clemson, but Saban has been very clear that there is simply no scenario in which that is a possibility. I hope he can make it back to the team and contribute down the stretch in 2008, but I'll be honest, these incoming freshmen have more talent than Hall, and Saban will have no hesitation in putting him on the bench in favor of a Jerrell Harris or a Donta' Hightower. He needs us a lot more than we need him, and I think he knows it.
Question #6: What all research pieces are planned for the near future?
OTS: Several are planned in the coming weeks. On the statistical side, I'm going to have some stuff soon on fumble luck, pass defense, offensive line sack rates, and defensive line sack rates. I'm also going to get the play-by-play breakdown of Mike McCoy posted. The research on all of them has been done, the articles just haven't been written yet.
I'm also going to pick up the Franchione piece very soon. I honestly never expected that to be anywhere near as popular as it was, but it turned out as such. That is next on the agenda.
Question #7: Do you recommend any particular pre-season magazine, and if so which one?
OTS: Ah, not really. I don't think the pre-season magazines are necessarily bad reads, but by the same token I don't see where they are particularly accurate and I certainly see very little evidence of any real predictive power. I think in years gone by they were much more valuable because there was otherwise such a dearth of information available, but today I personally find you can get much better information on the Internet for free. If you are looking to cure the mid-summer football blues, that's fine, but I wouldn't expect much more out of them.
Question #8: The most underrated coach in Alabama football history is ____ ____? The most overrated coach in Alabama football history is _____ _____?
And I know that latter will probably cause some controversy, but so be it.
Question #9: Considering all of the money that Coach Saban has donated back to the university for scholarship programs, approximately how much money did he get paid last year on net?
OTS: The Prince of Darkness Saban was paid approximately 3.7 million dollars last year by the University, according to various published reports. The donations given to the university by him and his wife total 1.1 million dollars. Do the math and Saban netted approximately 2.6 million dollars in his first year at Alabama, a very average salary for the head coach of a major SEC program.
So much for those 5 million dollar a year reports by ESPN. And I guess Skip Bertman can stop worrying about those congressional investigations.
Question #10: What will be the most obvious difference that the casual viewer will see between the offenses of Applewhite and McElwain?
OTS: That's a tough question to answer, but I think generally speaking the biggest difference will probably be the increased involvement in the passing game by the backs and the tight ends.
Grant is a great open field threat, but unfortunately we really didn't utilize that last year. He caught 26 passes, but it was mainly all safety valve stuff. Walker was a nice threat, but he didn't have a whole lot of balls thrown his way either, and a lot of it was also safety valve stuff.
That will change a lot this year, I believe. The starting tight end at Fresno State had 45 catches for 453 yards last year -- compare that to 23 and 204 for Walker -- and the starting tailback (who was a very similar player to Grant) caught 33 balls for well over 300 yards. I think we'll see the greater involvement of both from the get-go, and honestly we saw it a good bit in the A-Day game this year. To the casual viewer, I think the more active involvement of the backs and tight ends will be the difference you will see.