- Greg Ostendorf, ESPN Staff Writer
TideNation recruiting writer Greg Ostendorf brings you another edition of The O-zone, a confidential look inside Alabama recruiting. Get the latest updates from the gridiron and the hardwood as it pertains to the Crimson Tide.
Yulee, Fla., running back Derrick Henry is closing in on his decision date (Sept. 27), and this weekend, Tennessee has one last chance to impress the ESPN 150 star as he’s set to visit Knoxville for the Florida game. Sources say Henry would have to be blown away on his visit to Tennessee if it were to surpass Alabama. He’s scheduled to visit Tuscaloosa the next weekend for the Florida Atlantic game, giving Alabama a chance to make the last impression before he makes his decision. One key factor working to the Tide’s advantage is Henry’s relationship with the current players at UA. He feels like he would fit right in with the team if he chose to go there.
If Henry commits to Alabama in two weeks, it would create a logjam at the running back position in the Tide’s 2013 class. They may run into a similar problem in 2014. Tuscaloosa/Northridge running back Bo Scarbrough committed to Alabama on Friday night, giving the Tide its first commitment for 2014. Fellow in-state running back Racean ‘Rock’ Thomas (Oxford, Ala./Oxford) plans to make his decision in the next two weeks, and Alabama looks like the team to beat. What does that mean for other top running backs such as Leonard Fournette (New Orleans/Saint Augustine) or Sony Michel (Plantation, Fla./American Heritage)? Fournette told TideNation that Scarbrough’s decision doesn’t bother him.
Finding a position
With the first commitment out of the way, Alabama’s 2014 class might start picking up this fall. One name to keep an eye on is Ashville, Ala., quarterback E.J. Moss. There are reports that he’s ready to pull the trigger now, but sources say the UA coaching staff is still trying to figure out where he’s going to play at the next level. Until that happens, Moss is expected to wait before he makes a decision. According to his coach, the 6-foot-3, 220-pound signal caller would be better suited to play linebacker in college. He’s started every game on defense this season and has been ‘blowing people up.’ Alabama still looks like the team to beat for Moss, but the staff needs to decide where he best fits.
On Tuesday, ESPN’s Dave Telep reported that Louisville is no longer recruiting five-star point guard Anthony ‘Cat’ Barber. That leaves Alabama, Kansas and the newest school to enter the mix, N.C. State. Barber plans to visit N.C. State this weekend. The Hampton, Va., native, who has already taken his official visit to Kansas, is scheduled to visit Alabama before the end of the month, and a decision might come shortly after that. Don’t look too much into the Tide getting the last visit, but it certainly can’t hurt. UA head coach Anthony Grant may make an in-home visit with Barber’s AAU teammate, ESPN 100 forward Troy Williams, later in the week. Williams attends Oak Hill Academy in Virginia.
Sunday marked the first day that college coaches could make in-home visits with the 2013 hoops recruit, and Grant and his staff at Alabama haven’t wasted any time. On the first day, the Tide head coach met with ESPN 100 guard JaJuan Johnson (Memphis/Southwind). The visit went well, according to Johnson. He and Grant went over the what the roster would look like, how he would fit in and what campus-life is like at UA. The Alabama coach also made a favorable impression on Johnson’s family. Johnson has narrowed his list to six: Alabama, Louisville, Memphis, Miami, Tennessee and Texas. He’s scheduled to visit Miami this weekend and said he plans to make another trip to Tuscaloosa at the end of the month.
Grant is currently in Orlando, Fla., where he’s set to make an in-home visit with combo guard Rashawn Powell on Wednesday night.