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2017 Alabama Football Recruiting News & Update: Dead Period Begins

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Now, we wait.

Rah!
Rah!
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

We are two days away from National Signing Day (NSD) and another possible number one recruiting class for Alabama. As the Dead Period begins, the Crimson Tide has 25 committed players - 12 enrolled and 13 committed to sign on Feb. 1.

CALENDAR

  • Contact Period: January 12-28.
  • Quiet Period: January 29.
  • Dead Period: January 30-31.
  • Signing Day: February 1.
  • Dead Period: February 1-2.
  • Quiet Period: February 3-April 14.

The Dead Period means no more in-person contact is allowed, even if a prospect makes a visit to the college campus. Written and electronic communications are still permitted. More info on these terms can be found here.

Despite the restrictions, there is no rest for Nick Saban and staff. They are already working on future classes.

JUNIOR DAY

It was the first Junior Day in Tuscaloosa this past weekend with the Crimson Tide hosting many 2018 and beyond recruits on unofficial visits.

Four-star DE Max Wright:

Four-star DT Aeneas Hawkins:

4-Star OG Dylan Wonnum:

4-Star OG Jalil Irvin:

IT'S A FAMILY AFFAIR

Alabama has an excellent shot at signing WR Henry Ruggs for 2017, as well as his kid brother, 2018 outside linebacker Kevontae' Ruggs.

REDSHIRT, GRAYSHIRT, GREENSHIRT, BLUESHIRT

It sounds like a Dr. Suess book but they are all part of rules in the Infinite Jest thick NCAA rules book. And it wouldn't be the NCAA if there weren't any loopholes.

Nick Saban is a master at ferreting out these loopholes and using them to his advantage (using alumni as scout team players, hiring former head coaches as $35K/yr offensive analysts, etc.) This month's loophole is the "blueshirt" that has been around for many years, utilized by several teams.

I am sure some of you know what most of these terms are. Without getting too detailed, here are the broadest of broad strokes:

  • REDSHIRT - A player does not participate in any games, gets a fifth year of eligibility.*
  • GRAYSHIRT - An athlete delays enrollment until the following January, counting toward the following academic year.
  • GREENSHIRT - This is what we call an Early Enrollee (EE).
  • BLUESHIRT - This lesser know shirt is when an athlete enrolls in the fall and attends as a walk-on, but is usually awarded a scholarship after the first day of practice per the bylaw below. They are allowed to participate in practices and even play in games as a true freshman. Like grayshirts, they too postpone the scholly count until the following academic year. The biggest distinction for blueshirts, however, is that the rule interpretation mandates that the players in question are not recruited (an official visit to the school or a letter of intent issued for the student athlete to submit).

Bylaw 15.5.6.3.3 A student-athlete not recruited (per Bylaw 15.02.8) by the institution who receives institutional financial aid (based in any degree on athletics ability) after beginning football practice becomes a counter but need not be counted as an initial counter until the next academic year if the institution has reached its initial limit for the year in question. However, the student-athlete shall be considered in the total counter limit for the academic year in which the aid was first received.

Though we may never know for sure, placekicker commit Joseph Bulovas is a likely candidate for a blue shirt. The former Georgia Tech commit certainly qualifies. Center Hunter Brannon is a candidate for grayshirt or possibly a blueshirt freeing up two scholarships for this class.

* In January, AFCA executive director Todd Berry said a proposal has been developed that would allow a player to be given redshirt so long as he's played in four games or less in a season. Those four games could come at anytime - beginning of the season, middle or end - so long as he "doesn't play again for any reason that season." This would basically replace the medical redshirt but it is also a great way to get young players game experience. We'll see if the NCAA approves it.

(MIKE LOCKSLEY + X) - (MARIO CRISTOBAL + BILLY NAPIER) = Y?

The value of "X" has yet to be determined. When that happens, we may be able to calculate "Y". What Alabama is losing in this equation are two really good recruiters and perhaps two mediocre position coaches. It is no state secret that the Tide has struggled with O-Line play the last couple of seasons. In Mario Cristobal's defense, they were good enough to win one Big Beer Tap Trophy and three SEC crowns. Plus, the Tide had just lost Chance Warmack, Barrett Jones, and D. J. Fluker to the NFL before his arrival. That said, things could've been better across the line of scrimmage as of late.

As for Billy Napier, he did an adequate job with wide receivers but most of those guys came in as immensely talented players. It is questionable how good he was at developing those without 5 stars next to their names.

But I digress. This is about recruiting. Cristobal and Napier have done a great job reeling in blue-chippers to Tuscaloosa. Recently promoted Mike Locksley is an excellent recruiter as well with deep roots in the burgeoning mid-Atlantic region of Mayland, Virginia, and Washington D.C. Nick Saban is quite aware of Locksley's skills as the Towson State alumnus managed to convince recent 5-star Alabama targets Stefon Diggs and Damian Prince to stay home and go to Maryland instead of heading to T-town.

While head coach at New Mexico from 2009–2011, he set up a pipeline of recruiting players from his home region across the country to the Southwest, signing at least 15 from the area. Even though Locksley was let go after the 2011 season, that connection of players from the Maryland area to the Enchantment State remains open. The Lobos had three starters from the Baltimore area on their 2016 defense.

In his many coaching stops, Locksley has coached DB, DL, OLB, WR/TE, RB, and QB. It is possible that he could take over coaching wide receivers, while the new hire takes charge of the offensive line in some aspect. But that is just IMHO.

DEVONTA SMITH

Grain of salt...

Coming Tomorrow: National Signing Day Eve Primer

#RollTide

#NSD2017