Wednesday, January 16, 2013
The O-zone: A look ahead to signing day
By Greg Ostendorf
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- On Monday, the University of Alabama picked up commitment No. 21 for the class of 2013 when ESPN 150 defensive end Tim Williams committed to the Crimson Tide following his official visit to Tuscaloosa this past weekend.
With the latest addition, this year’s class is beginning to fill up fast with just a few precious spots still available. This week’s O-zone takes a look at the remaining targets, who Alabama will likely finish with and which top recruits will be on campus this weekend as the Tide celebrate their latest national championship.
A year ago, Alabama closed out the No. 1 recruiting class in the country by picking up commitments from a pair of defensive linemen on National Signing Day -- Korren Kirven and Dalvin Tomlinson. This year, the Tide hope to again finish strong, and the staff is looking to duplicate last year by reeling in at least two more defensive linemen on signing day. The obvious choice is Dee Liner, an ESPN 150 defensive tackle who decommitted from Auburn on Monday. Alabama looks to be in good shape to land the in-state star. The second option isn’t quite as cut and dry. Eddie Vanderdoes, the nation’s top defensive tackle, has moved to the top of the Tide’s wish list in recent weeks. UA defensive line coach Chris Rumph visited him this week, and he scheduled his official visit to Tuscaloosa the last weekend before signing day.
Alabama already has 21 players committed in the 2013 class, but the fans will likely have to wait until signing day before they see another commitment in this class. In addition to Liner and Vanderdoes, it’s likely that top Tide targets Montravius Adams, Vonn Bell, Alvin Kamara, Matthew Thomas and Laremy Tunsil will all wait until Feb. 6 to announce their decisions as well. Bell is the most likely to choose Alabama from that group. UA head coach Nick Saban made an in-home visit with the ESPN 150 defensive back on Monday, and the Tide look like the team to beat. He’s also considering Ohio State and Tennessee. It's two-team race between Alabama and Georgia for Tunsil and Kamara.
Peach State visitors
How much of a threat is Altee Tenpenny's upcoming official visit to Arkansas to his Alabama commitment?
Speaking of Adams, Bell and Kamara, all three Georgia recruits will take their official visits to Alabama this weekend. It’s the second weekend in a row where the Tide will host a group of ESPN 150 and ESPN 300 kids for their official visits.
“I am interested in seeing how my trip to Alabama goes and what the atmosphere is like,” Bell said.
Former Georgia high school star Reuben Foster is also expected to visit Tuscaloosa this weekend. Foster originally committed to the Tide in the summer of 2011 but flipped to Auburn this past summer after transferring to Auburn High School. Foster has since reopened his recruitment, and Alabama is back in the mix. This weekend’s official visit could go a long way in mending that relationship on both ends.
“I am looking forward to getting to Alabama next weekend and seeing if it is home,” Foster said. “I want to see how I would be used in their defense and what they have planned for me if I come there."
As the UA coaching staff continues to fill out the Tide’s 2013 class, they have haven’t forgotten about the current commitments. Saban had his in-home visit with ESPN 150 offensive lineman Grant Hill on Monday, and he’s flying to New Jersey on Thursday to check in on four-star athlete Anthony Averett. The recruit who might be the hardest to keep is Altee Tenpenny. The ESPN 150 running back took his official visit to Alabama this past weekend, and all signs point toward a productive visit. Tenpenny spent the majority of his trip with fellow Tide commitments Williams and Maurice Smith. He’s still planning to take his official visit to Arkansas, but Smith believes it’s more out of respect to the coaches there.
“He seemed pretty solid to me,” Smith said after the weekend. “He didn’t say that much about him going to Arkansas. He just told us that he was going to Arkansas for a visit to really get to talk to the coaches -- not really to show them any interest at all, just to show them love, really. He seemed pretty committed to me.”
Locking down the state
The priority for Saban and the Tide coaches is still the 2013 class, but that doesn’t mean they’re not getting a jump start on 2014. Saban, in particular, spent all day Tuesday going around central Alabama and making stops at various high schools to see the state’s top underclassmen. Fresh off a national championship, the Alabama head coach made known stops at Hoover (Marlon Humphrey), Oxford (Racean Thomas), Calera (Ronnie Clark), Clay-Chalkville (Brian Clark) and Homewood (Jordan Sims). The staff is expected to be in Auburn, Ala., on Wednesday to visit ESPN Watch List linebacker Rashaan Evans.