Monday, February 25, 2013
Junior day: What it means for Alabama
By Greg Ostendorf
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Junior day at Alabama has become quite the event. This year, the Crimson Tide hosted an array of prospects from all over the country, ranging from juniors in high school to eighth graders.
The lone commitment, in fact, did not come a 2014 prospect. It came from sophomore defensive back Deionte Thompson (Orange, Texas/West Orange).
“The system they run at Alabama is just like what we run at West Orange, and it makes me feel like I’m at home,” Thompson said. “I just decided to take a shot at it. I wanted to commit, get that out of the way, so I could focus on getting a state championship before I leave high school.”
In all, the Alabama staff extended close to 10 scholarship offers during Saturday’s junior day. Although the Tide didn’t add to its 2014 class, the weekend shed some light on UA’s approach to this class.
While QB Tyler Harris has interest from several SEC schools, his offer from Alabama came as a surprise.
Selecting a quarterback
One of the more surprising offers of the weekend went to ESPN Watch List quarterback Tyler Harris (Blackshear, Ga./Pierce County). It was his first offer, and even he was surprised when he heard the news.
Harris becomes the third 2014 quarterback offered by Alabama, joining David Cornwell (Norman, Okla./Norman North) and Jacob Park (Goose Creek, S.C./Stratford). The three signal-callers are all expected to attend the Tide’s camp in June where they will compete against each other for a spot in this class.
“[Saban] told me he was going to offer, but he wanted me to come back this summer because he said that they would offer three guys, but they’re only going to take one,” Harris said. “So to come back in the summer would be a big thing for me.”
Park, who picked up his offer from Alabama last week, also attended the Tide’s junior day on Saturday. He and his father, Adam Park, were very impressed with the program.
“The facilities, they’re very impressive,” the elder Park said. “When you win three national championships out of four, I guess you can have things like that. Very, very, very big weight room. They just built it two weeks ago.”
It’s unclear whether or not Alabama plans to offer any more quarterbacks before the summer, but others, including Brandon Dawkins (Westlake Village, Calif./Oaks Christian), are also expected to come and throw at June’s camp.
Lone Star connection
Alabama seems to be putting a bigger emphasis on Texas.
After signing two Texans in the 2013 class, Alabama extended offers to a pair of Texas juniors, tight end Koda Martin and running back Samaje Perine.
“It was a pretty good experience overall,” Martin said of the Tide’s junior day. “They told me I could play defensive end or tight end, whatever I wanted to play. I told them I really didn’t have a preference, wherever I’m needed to win. As long as I get to play football, I’ll play wherever they need me.”
ESPN Watch List cornerback Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen) also attended the Tide’s junior day on Saturday. He’s considered one of the top prospects in 2014, and he’s good friends with Thompson, Alabama’s newest commitment.
Defensive tackle Elisha Shaw (Tucker, Ga./Tucker) was one of the more high-profile recruits on campus this weekend. On Sunday, he tweeted his reaction.
The UA coaches told Kalvaraz Bessent (Kingsland, Ga./Camden County) that he’s their top recruit at cornerback and believe he’d be a good fit in their program. After visiting for junior day, Bessent says Alabama and Florida are his two leaders.
ESPN Watch List linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton (Montgomery, Ala./Carver) didn’t attend Alabama’s junior day, but he made a surprise trip to Tuscaloosa on Friday. During his visit, he picked up an offer from the Tide.
Alabama offered an eighth grader Dylan Moses (Baton Rouge, La./University Laboratory) who made the trip for the junior day. The 2017 athlete already has an offer from LSU.