With the commitment of safety Jarrick Williams this past Friday night, Alabama added its 16th commitment of the 2010 recruiting class. Despite the fact that the Tide is coming off back-to-back number one recruiting classes, nevertheless the 2010 class is off to a muct faster start than either the 2008 or 2009 class. Looking at the Scout.com commitment list, Williams marks the 16th commitment of the Tide's 2010 class, nine of which are rated four-stars or higher. By comparison, in 2009 we had only seven commitments at this point, with only two ranked as four-stars or higher. Likewise, in 2008, we had only ten commitments at this point, with only two ranked as four-stars or higher. Again, believe or not, this class is shaping up to be even better than the previous two.
Furthermore with Williams off the board, there are very few in-state prospects left on the board at this point. Of course things can change as the season develops, but as of right now there are only three in-state prospects remaining who currently sport firm offers to the Tide, and they are LaDarius Owens, C.J. Mosley, and Corey Grant.
LaDarius Owens continues to be a fairly heavy Auburn lean. Despite clearly being a pretty high priority for the Tide, Owens nevertheless grew up a big Auburn fan in a big Auburn family, and his uncle was the first African-American football player at Auburn. Alabama is recruiting him very hard, and Owens is clearly intrigued by the Tide -- by my count, he's made at least nine unofficial visits to Tuscaloosa, almost twice as many as he has taken to Auburn - - but Auburn nevertheless remains the leader here. For Alabama, the best case scenario for now is to just to push his decision back as far as possible, and attempt to slowly chip away at things. That is what happened two years ago with Jerrell Harris, and that will have to be the case with Owens as well.
C.J. Mosley remains as quiet as ever. He's clearly a talented prospect that the Tide very much wants, but it's just almost impossible to get a read on him. Most think he will sign with Alabama, but we'll have to wait and see. He does not look to make a decision until after the season.
Corey Grant, on the other hand, does look to be making a decision relatively soon. The speedster from Opelika is being recruited by the Tide to play slot wide receiver, and he's clearly a priority for us at the position. He says he still plans to make a decision before the season starts, but things could still change. Right now he claims his top three is Alabama, Florida, and Auburn, and that they are all even. That said, most think it's really an Alabama v. Florida battle, and it's hard to say where he is leaning right now. My gut instinct is that he may be a Florida lean based on the way he references the Gators -- and he would be a good fit there, where they plan to use him in a Percy Harvin-type role (though to be fair, every offensive recruit for the Gators says they will be used in a Percy Harvin-type role, so keep that in mind) -- but on the other hand there have been some rumblings on Florida sites that Grant will commit to Alabama in the near future. At this point, it's almost impossible to say one way or the other, and it looks to be a toss-up between Alabama and Florida.
One thing the 2010 class will certainly bring is a slew of prospects who will enroll early. As of right now, Craig Sanders, Austin Shepherd, Chad Lindsey, Philip Sims, and Jalston Fowler all look to enroll early. A few more Alabama commitments are also exploring the possibility of enrolling early as well, and a few of the remaining prospects on our board also hope to enroll early. It's hard to say exactly how many players will enroll early from the 2010 class, but I think it's safe to say at this point that we will have more early enrollments this year than we've ever had before at Alabama.
One sleeper in-state prospect may very well be Carlos Gray. Coming out of Pinson, Gray is a huge kid, standing at around 6'3 and over 300 pounds. He projects to be a defensive tackle prospect at the next level, and he has blown people away recently with his camp performances. After a camp in Knoxville, he earned an offer from Tennessee, and clearly the Alabama coaching staff is highly impressed with him after two standout camp performances. He is a very raw prospect, but we have been impressed with his ability, and it looks like if he has another standout camp performance in Tuscaloosa in mid-July, he may very well get a firm offer from the Tide. Based on his comments, it certainly seems like Gray is ours if we want him, and he's clearly a very talented individual who will end up at a top SEC program regardless. Keep your eye on him in the coming weeks.
Speaking of defensive tackle prospects, this past weekend Evan Hailes committed to Penn State. Hailes is the teammate of Alabama QB commitment Philip Sims, and he is a highly-touted prospect in his own right. Both Rivals and Scout.com have Hailes as a four-star prospect, and it was presumed that Alabama would get him if we wanted him. However, Hailes never picked up a firm offer from the Tide, and we wanted him to come back this summer at a camp before we made an ultimate decision on him. Hailes may camp in Tuscaloosa later regardless, but for now he committed to the Nittany Lions. It's hard to say why we didn't press for Hailes, honestly. My gut instinct is that we had some worries about his height and worried that he may not be able to fill out his frame any further, and that thus he wouldn't be an ideal candidate to play inside in the 3-4. One way or the other, we passed on Hailes, and it just goes to show you that you can be a damn good prospect willing to commit to Alabama and still not get an offer these days.
Keep your eye on Victor Beasley of Adairsville, Georgia in the coming days. Beasley is quite a physical specimen at 6'5 and 217 pounds, and he blew away the Tide coaches recently in a camp in Tuscaloosa, in large part due to him running a 4.51 in the 40. The staff immediately offered him, and Beasley admittedly wanted to commit then, but his father wanted him to wait a bit longer, which is what he did. Our staff loves him as a linebacker prospect, and it seems like he should be announcing in the near future, and clearly the Tide is the team to beat for this young man. Beasley's father, Vic Beasley, played defensive back for Auburn in the mid-1980's, and though he sports an offer from the Tigers, the orange and blue are not seriously in play here. In fact, Beasley explicitly bashed the Big Cat Weekend in a recent interview when discussing his trip to Alabama, saying that the Tide was only focused on winning national championships, and not "bells, whistles and Big Cat weekends" like Auburn. Bottom line, if we want him then he is ours, and it certainly seems like we want this young man pretty bad.
DeMarco Cobbs of Tulsa, Oklahoma is a name Alabama fans should get familiar with. Cobbs is one of the top players in the country who looks to play wide receiver on the next level -- though he could play several other positions with his athleticism -- and he could go to any school in the country. A few hours after leaving the big USC camp this past weekend, he says he now favors them slightly, but he had indicated prior to then that the Tide might have a slight lead. At the very least, we seem to be one of the teams who will be in it 'til the end for Cobbs' services, and it helps that Oklahoma has struggled somewhat to get players out of Tulsa, so in-state pressures are not likely to be a major issue here. The biggest thing we have going for us here is that Cobbs admittedly has a very close relationship with Nick Saban.
Markeith Ambles, on the other hand, continues to be an enigma. The talented wide receiver out of Georgia is clearly of the elite variety, but he is also clearly being plagued by some off-field issues. No one knows specifically what they are yet, but whatever it is has resulted in his USC offer being pulled, as well as his invitation to the Under-Armour All-American game. He says he favors Florida, but some say Florida will not take his commitment, and many think academics are a major issue with him. Who even knows how he stands on Alabama's board at this point?
It's no secret that Alabama is going to load up on cornerback prospects this year, and with DeMarcus Miliner and Deion Belue already on board, John Fulton is clearly the next big target. Fulton is a highly-recruited four-star cornerback out of South Carolina, and Alabama currently holds a big lead for him. Georgia has now passed Florida for second for his services, but either way Alabama nevertheless has a big lead. Many were hoping that he would commit soon, but apparently he is going to wait a while now, and unfortunately things could change by then. Fulton now says he will announce in December (and it cannot go further than that, as he plans to enroll early).The good news, though, is that the Tide continues to recruit him very hard, and neither South Carolina or Clemson seem to be a major player here, so there should not be any great in-state pressures persuading him to stay at home.
Speaking of Belue, lost in the hoopla regarding his commitment is the uncertainty that it creates for Garry Peters of Conyers, Georgia. Most thought the four-star athlete Peters was third on Alabama's board at cornerback, but with the commitment of Belue the water has been muddied a bit for him. With Fulton still a top priority, and Milliner and Belue already on board, Peters is now at most the fourth cornerback on our board, and unless we are going to take four cornerbacks in this class, he may be out of luck. The good news for Peters is that we probably will take a fourth cornerback, but at the very least it does make him pretty borderline right now. Peters admits that Alabama is the huge leader for his services, and he is clearly ours if we want him, but I don't think it's necessarily a given that he has a firm offer now with Belue on board.
Brian Vogler, the monster tight end out of Columbus, Georgia, has narrowed his list of schools down to Alabama and Oklahoma. Coming out of Auburn's backyard, I expected the Tigers to be a big player for his services, but it just hasn't came to fruition. Most think Vogler will commit to the Tide in the coming weeks, but he still wants to have an overnight stay in Tuscaloosa before he makes a final decision. One way or the other, he looks to decide before the season starts.
The sixteen commitments thus far in the 2010 class do not count either Devonta Bolton or Brandon Lewis, both pretty highly-touted signees in the 2008 class who went to junior college after failing to qualify academically. There seems to be no question that both want to re-sign with the Tide, but by the same token we have heard nothing definitive to date to indicate that the Tide is necessarily willing to re-sign those two prospects. At this point, I think the safest thing to say is that if these two can graduate early and enroll late this December, we will probably re-sign them, but if not we will probably pass them up. Hopefully both will redshirt this year and, if they do report to UA, have three years of eligibility remaining.
Finally, we'll close out the first edition of the Meat Market with a few quick hitters:
Scout.com has rated Alabama punter commitment Jay Williams as a three-star and the #5 punter in the country. Likewise, kicker commitment Cade Foster has been rated by them as a four-star and the #3 kicker in the country. Furthermore, Deion Belue was recently rated a two-star by Scout.com... expect his stock to rise in the coming months as he shows out at more camps. Damien Robinson has both Ole Miss and MSU fans alike convinced that he is going out of state, and many think it's an Alabama v. LSU battle (and I still say he will end up at 'Bama). South Carolina guard prospect Eric Mack is now widely expected to commit to the Gamecocks. North Carolina athlete Keenan Allen still has Alabama as a slight leader over Clemson, but we are going to have to keep fighting like hell for this one. Keep your eye on DeAndrew White out of Texas as a wide receiver prospect. DB Jakar Hamilton is down to Alabama and Georgia, but most think he'll end up with the Dawgs. Despite lots of Internet rumblings the past couple of weeks, we still have no word on the academic status of Michael Bowman. Finally, click here for the latest highlights from 2011 commitment Marvin Shinn.