With National Signing Day one week from today, a brief overview of the handful of remaining targets and how the 2011 recruiting class looks to play out:
LaMichael Fanning has surprised some and will take an official visit to Auburn this weekend, as apparently Auburn commitment Quan Bray has been recruiting him hard for the Tigers. This one probably has the legitimate possibility of going either way at this point, but frankly I'm not getting overly worked up one way or the other. He has great size and athleticism, but admittedly he comes with quite a bit of baggage. He is an extremely raw prospect, he has never lasted more than one year at a high school, he has quit his high school football team at least once, and there are serious questions regarding his academic situation and whether or not he will be able to qualify academically when the time comes. Given all of that, it's hard to justify getting overly excited regardless of how this one plays out. If we hold onto Fanning, fine, but so be it if he decides to play somewhere else. Best of luck to him either way.
Daryl Collins took an official visit last weekend to Southern Miss, and is currently planning on taking another official visit to Kentucky this weekend. Things may somehow work out to where Collins ends up in Tuscaloosa when all is said and done, but for now this seems like a Gerald West-type situation all over again. A foregone conclusion it may not be, but admittedly it would be somewhat of a surprise if Collins signed with Alabama next Wednesday.
Jadeveon Clowney made an unofficial visit to South Carolina this past weekend with his parents, where he attended the South Carolina v. Kentucky basketball game, as the South Carolina coaching staff apparently felt it was imperative to get him back on campus in Columbia after his official visit to Alabama. For now the plan is for Clowney to take an official visit to Clemson this weekend, but nothing is guaranteed just yet and in any event it still looks like Clowney will delay his signing until a couple of weeks after National Signing Day. For all intents and purposes it remains a South Carolina v. Alabama battle with the Gamecocks holding an edge that will be hard to overcome.
Cyrus Kouandjio took an official visit to Iowa last weekend, and has surprised some by planning an official visit this weekend to Auburn. No one bleeding crimson particularly likes the notion of him taking a visit down on the Plains, but having said that I don't think anyone legitimately expects that he will end up anywhere but Alabama. For Kouandjio to sign anywhere other than 'Bama come National Signing Day would almost certainly be the biggest surprise of the recruiting season.
Isiah Crowell took an official visit to Georgia last weekend, but canceled an official visit to Auburn this weekend, further cementing the obvious reality that the Columbus standout will ultimately pick between the Tide and the Bulldogs. Given the commitment of his close friend Quintavious Harrow and the fact that Alabama missed on Malcolm Mitchell -- not to mention the fact that Crowell grew up a Georgia fan and that the Dawgs seemingly offer better chances of early playing time -- the consensus opinion is now that Crowell will ultimately sign with Georgia on National Signing Day. It doesn't take a genius to see which way this one is trending, and with the bulk of the "Dream Team" seemingly coming to fruition, at this point it would probably be an upset if 'Bama can pull this one out.
Jeoffrey Pagan surprised nearly everyone when he showed up last weekend in Tuscaloosa with his parents for an official visit. The former Florida / current Clemson commitment had just committed to Dabo Swinney and company days earlier, but it seems as if he is already back on the open market. The potential of a greyshirt apparently turned Pagan off from Gators -- Pagan tore his ACL a couple of months back -- and while he had offers from nearly every school in the country before the injury, Florida was seemingly not the only program thinking a greyshirt was in his future. Pagan is clearly a high risk / high reward signee with the major knee injury and his undisputed raw talent before the injury, and 'Bama has emerged as a serious player here with many Clemson people thinking that he will not end up in with the Tigers despite the current verbal commitment. For now Pagan plans to announce his final decision on National Signing Day, and is down to Alabama, Georgia, and Clemson. If Alabama legitimately offers him a scholarship allowing him to enroll this summer -- something that he may have as of right now given the likely misses with Clowney, Crowell, and Michell, and something that will almost certainly be guaranteed if LaMichael Fanning flips to Auburn -- then you have to be optimistic about the Tide's chances here.
Nickolas Brassell visited Ole Miss last weekend, and from the discussion of several other prospects visiting Oxford that weekend Brassell is seemingly all but signed, sealed, and delivered to Colonel Reb. For now Brassell is slated to take an official visit to Alabama this weekend, and things could change if or when that happens, but he backed out of two previous visits to Tuscaloosa for no apparent reason, so until he shows up in T'town it's hard to legitimately count on him making the trip. Moreover, considering that more than a few think that Brassell is already a silent commitment to Houston Nutt and the Rebels, it's possible that even if he does take an official visit to Alabama this weekend that he is merely looking for a good time and to build some drama for his ultimate announcement. One way or the other, Brassell plans to announce on National Signing Day, and for now there seems to be little reason to expect that he will do anything other than sign with Ole Miss.
Floyd Raven was mentioned by several people as someone who Alabama may turn to after missing on Malcolm Mitchell, and the Louisiana native fits the generic physical mold that Nick Saban typically looks for in defensive backs. For now there are conflicting reports on whether or not Raven legitimately has an offer from Alabama, and in general there seems to be a great deal of confusion regarding his recruitment right now. There were erroneous reports a couple of days back that he committed to Texas A&M, then other reports that he would decide in the coming days between A&M, Michigan, and Ole Miss, and more reports last night that he had re-committed to the Rebels. Frankly I don't think anyone has a clue exactly where this one is heading right now, but nevertheless keep your eye on him as a potential visitor this weekend.
Erique Florence canceled his official visit to Alabama at the last minute this past weekend, and instead chose to attend the Auburn national championship celebration. If I may engage in a bit of speculation, Florence has likely been a silent commitment to Auburn for some time now, and he was probably going to take an official visit to Alabama only to help swing others taking a visit that weekend to Auburn. Once it was realized we had no one on campus last weekend that Auburn was either pursuing or a viable candidate for, Florence backed out. And frankly, that's probably the reason why Nick Saban and company didn't schedule his visit for the weekend before when we had so many key targets in town, effectively calling the bluff of Florence and the Auburn coaching staff. In all honesty, this one has been over for a long time now, and everyone knows how this movie will end.
Finally, to close with a few quick hitters: Xzavier Ward committed to Georgia, thus ending any realistic chances of Alabama getting him as a fall-back option. Bradley Sylve re-affirmed his commitment to Alabama in the wake of the departure of wide receivers coach Curt Cignetti. Nick O'Leary committed to Florida State and Jay Rome committed to Georgia, virtually ensuring 'Bama is done at tight end in this class. Tim Jernigan eliminated 'Bama from consideration and will choose between LSU, Florida, and Florida State. Anthony Chickillo re-affirmed his commitment to Miami. Cameron Clear will decide between Alabama and Tennessee, but it's hard to see him having a firm offer to 'Bama unless the Tide strikes out on several others. Buck Allen was told by the UA coaching staff that 'Bama was full, so it will be Crowell-or-bust at tailback for the Tide in this recruiting class.