- 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.
Tide on top
It’s been a crazy week for ESPN 300 wide receiver Eldridge Massington. After finding out he could no longer enroll early at USC, he reopened his recruitment, and now he already has a new school at the top of his list. On Wednesday, Massington told TideNation that Alabama is his No. 1 choice as of right now. The Crimson Tide was right behind USC when he committed in May. He said he’s also going to also consider Arizona State, Notre Dame, Tennessee and UCLA, but this weekend, the Texas native plans to take his official visit to Tuscaloosa. If all goes well, the Tide could be in good position as long as they have room in the class to take him.
“I’m real excited,” Massington said of his upcoming visit. “I can’t wait. I wish I could go straight to Friday and be on my visit.”
Foster still in play
The Massington news doesn’t mean Alabama isn’t still going all out for ESPN 150 wide receiver Robert Foster. UA assistant coach Lance Thompson was in Monaca, Pa., the last two days to visit with the star receiver. According to Central Valley head coach Mark Lyons, nothing has changed with Foster concerning a decision. It’s still between Alabama and Pittsburgh, and he’s expected to announce on Friday, Dec. 21. At this point, Lyons says that Foster doesn’t have a favorite yet between the two. He’s still waiting to get that ‘gut feeling.’
“It’s difficult right now,” Lyons said. “You’re getting into that decision where you’ve built some relationships with both of the guys that come in, both schools, both staffs. I can see where it gets tough on a kid right now.”
Massington won’t be the only official visitor on Alabama’s campus this weekend. The Crimson Tide are expected host a number of commitments, including ESPN 150 stars Cooper Bateman and O.J. Howard, in-state offensive lineman Grant Hill, and the other quarterback in the class, Parker McLeod. Outside of Hill, all three prospects are expected to enroll early at Alabama. The other potential early enrollees -- Derrick Henry, Josh McNeil and DeMarcus Walker -- all took their official visits during the season. Among those not coming this weekend is ESPN 150 running back Alvin Kamara. The UA staff wants to wait and bring Kamara to Tuscaloosa in January, once his senior season is over.
Distance not a factor
Although Laremy Tunsil remains the top option, Alabama is still in the mix for ESPN 150 offensive lineman David Dawson. With the possibility of D.J. Fluker leaving early for the NFL, the Tide are looking for somebody to fill in at right tackle as early as next year and also for the future. Dawson fits the bill. The Michigan native has Alabama, Michigan and Ohio State as his current top three. Despite taking an official visit to Florida, he eliminated the Gators because of the distance from home. However, Tuscaloosa might be just the right distance. He says his mother is willing to move to Birmingham if he chooses Alabama which would help alleviate some of the concerns with being far from home.
For ESPN 150 safety Vonn Bell, it’s been down to three schools -- Alabama, Ohio State and Tennessee -- for quite some time now. However, sources close to the situation say he’s close to making a commitment. In fact, it’s likely that a decision has already been made, but Bell wants to wait until he finishes his senior season before announcing it. Ridgeland High School plays this Friday in the state semifinals, and coaches from all three finalists are expected to be in attendance. There’s been talk that UA head coach Nick Saban might even make the trip to see Bell in person. With Tennessee still searching for its next head coach, it’s likely the decision comes down to the Tide and the Buckeyes.
2dEdward Aschoff and Alex Scarborough
2dAlex Scarborough and Greg Ostendorf