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Wednesday, January 30, 2013
The O-zone: Jackson pledges, who's left?

By Greg Ostendorf

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- It’s just a week until national signing day, and the University of Alabama added another key piece to its 2013 class when four-star athlete Eddie Jackson committed to the Crimson Tide over LSU on Wednesday.

Alabama’s class now has 22 commitments and room for just a few more. Who will fill those remaining spots before next week?

This week’s O-zone looks at how Jackson’s commitment affects the rest of the class, which position is still a priority for the Tide and what surprise junior college prospect could sign with the Tide.

Room for Bell?

Vonn Bell
Alabama still has room for ESPN 150 member Vonn Bell.
With Jackson’s commitment, there have been rumors that Alabama no longer has room for ESPN 150 safety Vonn Bell. Some even believe that Jackson took Bell’s spot in the class. That’s not the case. A source close to the program says there’s still room for Bell if he decides to choose the Tide on signing day. However, Tennessee and new head coach Butch Jones have made a strong push for the in-state native, and the Volunteers look to have the momentum down the stretch. Bell was close to making a commitment to Alabama last month, but the delay may have actually cost the Tide. He took his official visit to Knoxville over the weekend, and it’s clear that he enjoyed his trip. Expect the UA coaches to make one last push, but he’s now far from a lock.

“When I was at the Tennessee basketball game, they all started chanting my name,” Bell said. “Me being a Tennessee boy, they all said they want me and they need me. That was really touching, and I enjoyed that.” 

Read: DB Bell excited about Vols under Jones

Priority position

Regardless of where Bell ends up, the position that Alabama has put the most emphasis on in the weeks leading up to signing day is the defensive line. The Tide would like to add at least two, possibly three more defensive linemen in this class. Former Auburn commitment and ESPN 150 defensive tackle Dee Liner is the most likely to choose Alabama as the staff feels confident about his upcoming decision. After that, it’s anybody’s guess. Five-star Eddie Vanderdoes is expected to take his official visit to Tuscaloosa this weekend, and UA defensive line coach Chris Rumph was in California on Tuesday to check on him. Alabama is also expected to make an in-home visit with ESPN 150 defensive lineman Montravius Adams later in the week. Adams has always been considered a long shot, but the Tide still have a chance with the Peach State product.

Late surprise

Alabama hosted its junior day this past weekend, but there was still one surprise official visitor who was on campus -- junior college defensive tackle Jarran Reed. The staff has been interested in the Ole Miss commitment for quite some time, but it didn’t become known until word leaked out that Reed was in Tuscaloosa. Sources say that his offer from UA is good and doesn’t hinge on what other potential targets decide to do. “Knowing that kid, he’ll probably take it,” said one person close to Reed. Alabama isn’t the only school trying to flip the juco defensive lineman. Florida hosted Reed on an official visit earlier this month, and the UF coaches felt good about their chances until the national champions started showing interest. Reed still plans to take his official visit to Ole Miss this weekend.

Losing ground

It’s always been an Alabama-Georgia battle for the nation’s No. 1 offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil. He took official visits to both schools this month and was expected to make a final decision between the two schools. That was until he took his official visit to Ole Miss over the weekend. Tunsil joined a star-studded group in Oxford that included top recruit Robert Nkemdiche and ESPN 150 wide receiver Laquon Treadwell. The visit clearly had an effect on him as it now seems that Alabama has been replaced by Ole Miss among his top two. The UA coaches were expected to meet with Tunsil on Monday, but it looks like Alabama might now be looking up at not just the Bulldogs, but the Rebels, too.

“Oh man, it surprised me a lot,” Tunsil said of the Ole Miss visit. “I didn’t think they would have many things to show me, but it was real good. I didn’t think their facilities were like that. They showed me all of that. I didn’t think the program would change as fast as it has." 

Read: 5-star Tunsil ‘confused’ after Ole Miss visit

Signing day preview

Get your popcorn ready next Wednesday as at least seven of Alabama’s remaining targets are expected to make their announcement on national signing day. Here’s your guide to help you stay on top of all the news next week.

9:35 a.m. -- Tunsil

9:45 a.m. -- Adams

10:05 a.m. -- Bell

10:45 a.m. -- Antonio Conner

Noon -- Liner

3:35 p.m. -- Alvin Kamara

8 p.m. -- Vanderdoes

* - all times Eastern