Wednesday, January 23, 2013
The O-zone: Battles for the final spots
By Greg Ostendorf
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- It’s stretch time for the University of Alabama. With the exception of five-star defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes, the Crimson Tide have hosted all of their remaining targets for official visits, and now it’s a countdown to signing day.
Over the weekend, the UA staff and commitment Bradley Bozeman agreed to a grayshirt next year, which opens up another spot in the 2013 class. The Tide now can add five, possibly six more recruits over the next two weeks.
This week’s O-zone looks at who is most likely to fill the remaining spots and also previews this weekend’s junior day in Tuscaloosa.
Alabama and Georgia played each other in the SEC championship this year for the first time, and the game did not disappoint. However, the Bulldogs and the Crimson Tide have been fighting each other for years on the recruiting trail, and this year is no different.
The 2013 battles include five-star offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil, ESPN 150 running back Alvin Kamara and linebacker Reuben Foster, the top-ranked player in the state of Alabama. Tunsil has taken his official visit to both schools, but coming off his trip to Athens, Ga., the Bulldogs hold a slight advantage. Kamara might be leaning the other way after taking his official visit to UA, but Georgia will try to pull out all the stops when he visits this weekend. As for Foster, it’s anybody’s guess. He visited Alabama over the weekend but still has trips set up to both Auburn and UGA.
Kamara on his recent visit: “The visit went well -- Alabama pretty much just showed me why they are still in the running for my talents. I got all the questions that I had answered, and I know if I chose to go there, it would be a good choice."
It’s no secret that Alabama has two ESPN 150 running backs -- Tyren Jones and Altee Tenpenny -- already committed, and five-star athlete Derrick Henry already has enrolled at UA and plans to start out at running back, as well. Is there room for Kamara? The staff still wants him, and he made it clear after his visit to Alabama that depth would not be a concern for him, regardless of where he chooses to go.
However, will Kamara affect the rest of the class, in particular Tenpenny? There has been a lot of pressure on Tenpenny to stay in state and flip to Arkansas. He took his official visit to Fayetteville over the weekend. If he indeed flips, it will be because of his desire to stay home, not because of concerns with the depth chart.
“I don’t focus on other players,” Tenpenny said. “If he commits, he’d be a good addition, because he’s a great athlete, a great running back and a real cool guy. If he doesn’t commit, I know that he will have success wherever he goes.”
The majority of Alabama’s remaining targets -- Vonn Bell, Kamara, Dee Liner and Tunsil -- all plan to wait until national signing day to announce their decisions. Therefore, it could be a slow couple of weeks for the Tide leading up to Feb. 6.
However, Tide fans could receive some good news this week from South Florida athlete Eddie Jackson. The late-bloomer took his official visit to Tuscaloosa over the weekend, and according to Jackson, Alabama has taken over the lead in his recruitment. Sources say he could make a decision as early as this week, before he takes his final two scheduled visits to Arkansas and LSU. Nick Saban likes Jackson as a cornerback and says he has a chance to play as a freshman.
After back-to-back recruiting weekends that focused on the 2013 class and the official visitors, Alabama will turn its attention toward the 2014 class this weekend as the Tide plan to host their first junior day of the new year. Sources close to the program say that no more than 30 prospects will be on campus this weekend, as the staff wants only recruits it has evaluated and rated highly. So far, 17 ESPN Watch List members have been confirmed as coming this weekend, and that number could go up.
Scarbrough, mentioned above, is Alabama’s lone commitment for 2014, but that could change this weekend. The staff wanted to straighten out the 2013 class before it started looking ahead. However, with the top juniors coming to town this weekend, don’t be surprised if you see a few more names join Scarbrough in next year’s class. A year ago, Raheem Falkins, ArDarius Stewart and Tenpenny all committed to the Tide at their first junior day. The most obvious choice this weekend is Thomas, an ESPN Watch List running back who has had Alabama out front for quite some time now. Also, if players like DeMarcus Bingham, Shaun Dion Hamilton or T.J. Posey receive an offer from the Tide this weekend, they could pull the trigger.