The 2009 recruiting season is winding down to the very end, and we are now only five days away from National Signing Day. For the Crimson Tide, it has already been a wildly successful recruiting class, unanimously considered one of the best in the country, but things are far from over. Despite having 21 commitments already on board, it seems that we could legitimately add between seven and nine prospects as we close out the 2009 recruiting class. So, with all of that established, let's go a bit deeper and break down the individual prospects still remaining on the board:
Trent Richardson: Of the 21 current commitments we have, only Trent Richardson presents any great concern. We all know his story quite well, and he has given Alabama fans ulcers for months, something that he continues to do until this day. However, at this point, I wouldn't get too concerned. Even if you believe the news that Alabama and Florida are "dead even" at this point, we still have the final word with Mr. Richardson tonight when Jim McElwain, Burton Burns, and James Willis descend on Pensacola for his final in-home visit. Bottom line, while Richardson will make us nervous until he gets his name on the dotted line, he has always returned to Alabama after being wooed by others, and that should stand this time as well. We all knew this was coming with Richardson, so no one should be surprised that it is now here. At the end of the day, Richardson should stick with the Tide.
Gerald West: In a far different situation from Richardson we find Gerald West, the cornerback prospect out of Mobile. Academics are a concern with him, and there is a concern that me night not qualify. Basically, the situations boils down to this... if he thinks he will qualify, he's coming to Alabama, but if not, he's headed to Southern Miss. And frankly, I wouldn't be surprised either way.
Dre Kirkpatrick: A unanimous five-star cornerback, Kirkpatrick has officially narrowed his list to Alabama, Florida, and Texas. Everyone in the world thinks Kirkpatrick is an Alabama lock, and I imagine that's the case. Andrew Bone made some news Wednesday in a chat session when he said that, if NSD were today, Kirkpatrick would sign with Texas. However, it did seem like Bone was just trying to create some controversy, and to be sure Bone himself said later that he expected Kirkpatrick to sign with Alabama. At the end of the day, there is really no reason to expect Kirkpatrick to not sign with Alabama. He has a good relationship with Texas DC Will Muschamp, but Nick Saban is not going to miss on a five-star in-state cornerback. Kirkpatrick will announce at 1:45 on NSD.
Kendally Kelly: To say that Kelly has had one of the strangest recruiting processes would be an understatement. He has been very quiet until recently when he basically raved that his LSU official visit was the greatest thing to ever happen to him. However, it's pretty clear now that it was all huffing and puffing (and he said other things to other services), and he now says Alabama, Clemson, and LSU are even. Truth be told, Kelly grew up a big Alabama fan, and if we want him then he is all ours. I say that he does have a firm offer come NSD, and he signs with the Tide. Despite his comments, most still consider Alabama to be the front-runner, and rightfully so. Kelly will announce, alongside Kirkpatrick, at 1:45 on NSD.
Tana Patrick: Widely considered one of the state's top players, the four-star linebacker has long been considered an Alabama lean. He is someone that Coach Saban and company have been recruiting very hard for the past year, and honestly Alabama would have been the easy favorite regardless. However, the hire of James Willis -- who recruited Patrick to Auburn, and who Patrick had a great relationship with -- should absolutely seal the deal for the Tide. Tennessee and USC have come on strong for Patrick, but it shouldn't be enough. Expect Patrick to sign with the Tide on NSD. He is tentatively set to announce at his high school at 10:00 AM on NSD.
Brandon Moore: It is officially down to Alabama and Florida for one fo the state's most versatile linemen, and it is now looking like he will hold his announcement off to NSD, after delaying it numerous times. The Florida people have went hard after him, and no one should be overly shocked if Moore went that route, but as long as Moore has a firm offer from Alabama, he should be Tuscaloosa bound. Moore could announce at any time -- his official visits are done with -- but he will probably wait until National Signing Day.
Bobby Massie: The gargantuan Massie is of Fluker-esque size at 6'8 and 330 pounds, and he comes highly-touted to boot. The Hargrave head coach said he had top five NFL pick written all over him, Rivals has him as a five-star, and he is unanimously considered the top prep school prospect in the country. We have been on Massie hard for a long time now, and after he had a great official visit to Tuscaloosa last weekend, it looked like Alabama was his leader anyway, but now we are getting more great news. Most thought it was down to Georgia and Alabama for this one, and we are getting more and more news that he is not likely to take a visit to Georgia this weekend. If that pans out, which many expect, you can officially put Massie in the bag. He won't announce until NSD, but it certainly looks like Massie is headed to Tuscaloosa.
Darren Myles: The four-star safety has long been considered an Alabama v. LSU battle, and Alabama is in good shape for the Atlanta prospect. Saban is after this man very hard, and has explicitly told him we will save a spot all the way to NSD. Furthermore, most LSU people now don't expect him to become a part of their class, so that should bode well for Alabama. However, there have been some rumblings that Memphis safety prospect Gene Robinson could be visiting Tuscaloosa this weekend, and if he does then you can safely say the staff is trying to put together a back-up plan in case we miss on Myles. If Robinson doesn't visit, however, I think you should probably feel very good about your chances with Myles. He is tentatively set to announce at 9:45 on NSD.
Pat Patterson: One of the nation's truly elite wide receiver prospects -- a five-star prospect with Scout.com, and the #4 overall WR recruit with Rivals -- Patterson is largely considered to be down to Alabama and Ole Miss battle. He will be taking an official visit to Tennessee this weekend, but again it's down to Big Al and Johnny Reb, and quite frankly Patterson is a very difficult read. Many people think he is headed to Ole Miss, but many think he is an Alabama lock, too. Only time will tell. Three things going for the Tide in this one... Macon is closer to Tuscaloosa than Oxford, Alabama has infinitely more to offer him than Ole Miss, and Nick Saban is an immeasurably better recruiter than Houston Nutt. Fingers crossed. Patterson's tentative announcement is set for 9:00 AM on NSD.
Ed Stinson: The former Florida State commitment is the Tide's remaining legitimate target for the Jack linebacker position, and we are in good shape for him. Stinson has been very impressed with Alabama, and for a long time now it has been considered an Alabama v. LSU battle. The Bayou Bengals were strong on him for a long time, and after he secretly took an unofficial visit to Baton Rouge this past weekend things were of great concern for the Tide. However, nearly everyone still thinks Stinson is Alabama bound, including the LSU people, and the fact that LSU recently upgraded Bennie Logan's grayshirt offer into a normal scholarship other pretty much signifies them throwing in the towel. Expect Stinson to sign with Alabama on NSD.
Eddie Lacy: One of the nation's top running backs, Alabama has emerged as the clear favorite for the Louisiana native. He's clearly an elite talent, but academics have been the major concern with him. Fortunately, though, Lacy has gotten his act together, and he is now very close to qualifying, so close that another point on the ACT or another tenth of a point increase in his GPA would probably do the trick for him. At this point, he's easily worth the scholarship... he'll either make it, or he should go to Hargrave and then qualify. And again, Alabama is the clear favorite, he has all but publicly committed to us. Expect him to sign with the Tide come NSD.
Rueben Randle: The Bastrop wide receiver has probably received more recruiting hype than just about any other prospect in the country, and Alabama has fought hard for him. And to be sure, we probably still have a small shot at him, but don't kid yourselves, this kid is almost certainly LSU bound. Get ready for it.
Greg Reid: After reneging on Florida and opening his commitment back up, the elite cornerback started considering the Tide, and we have blown him away. At this point, it's down to Alabama and FSU, and frankly it seems like he likes us more than anyone else. However, I wouldn't get my hopes up just yet. He says location is a big factor (he wants to be close to his grandmother), and Tuscaloosa is over six hours away from his home town, while Tallahassee is only 90 minutes. That alone should give the 'Noles the edge. Don't count out Alabama yet because he obviously loves the Tide and Saban is going very hard after him, but FSU should be considered the favorite. Reid will announce next Tuesday, the day before NSD.
Barkevous Mingo: I'll say from the outset that I fully expect Mingo to sign with LSU, and that's definitely the consensus opinion. However, I was flipping through the channels last night and noticed where one Louisiana recruiting "expert" predicted that he would sign with the Tide, and admittedly he did have a good time on his official visit to Alabama last week. Don't get me wrong, I'm not expecting it, nor should you, but I suppose it's at least worthy of a mention.
WRAPPING IT UP
As I said earlier, when it's all said and done Alabama remains in great shape for an unbelievable close. With all of the remaining prospects likely to announce on NSD, we could see more activity on this Signing Day than we ever have had before. And as always, predicting where prospects will is a bit of a crapshoot, but I'll say that Alabama wraps up NSD by closing with nine more commitments -- Dre Kirkpatrick, Kendall Kelly, Tana Patrick, Brandon Moore, Darren Myles, Bobby Massie, Pat Patterson, Ed Stinson, and Eddie Lacy -- with a good chance that West goes to USM, and that three or four guys out of this class end up taking a grayshirt.