Thursday, November 8, 2012
The O-zone: ESPN 150 visitors
By Greg Ostendorf
TideNation 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.
Alabama is set to host the biggest recruiting weekend of the season for Saturday’s Texas A&M game. Prospects from all over are making their way to Tuscaloosa, maybe none bigger than five-star offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil. The nation’s No. 1 tackle is visiting with friends and fellow Florida natives Derrick Henry and DeMarcus Walker, both of whom are already committed to the Tide. Tunsil is thought to be favoring Alabama and Georgia, and a positive visit this weekend could push the Tide to the top. He’s still expected to take his official visit to UA after the season, and he doesn’t plan to make a decision until signing day. The 6-foot-6, 295-pound offensive lineman is a top priority for Alabama.
Tunsil won’t be the only big name at Alabama this weekend. The Tide are set to host ESPN 150 defensive tackle and Texas commitment A’Shawn Robinson for his official visit. Robinson is thought to be a soft pledge to the Longhorns, and Alabama could make things interesting with a strong visit. Kendell Beckwith, the nation’s No. 2 athlete, is also expected to visit UA this weekend. He took in the Alabama-LSU game last Saturday and will more than likely choose between those teams. He’s going to wait and take his official visit to Alabama after the season. Peach State stars Vonn Bell and Alvin Kamara could show up in Tuscaloosa this weekend for Saturday’s game as well.
For the previous home game, Alabama’s lone official visitor was ESPN 150 wide receiver Robert Foster. Distance has always been a factor for Foster, a native of Pennsylvania, but other recruits who ran into Foster at the game said he felt comfortable on his visit. “He thinks he can come here and still have fun and be playing for a hard-working team,” one recruit said. After the trip, Foster announced on Twitter that he was close to making a commitment but has since backed off. Word is that if the 6-foot-3, 190-pound wide receiver pulled the trigger today, it would be Alabama. However, this week Foster set up of his official visit to Pittsburgh for this month, and he might take an official visit to Ohio State before it’s all said and done.
“I love Alabama,” Foster said after his visit. “They made me feel comfortable. Coach [Nick] Saban is a good coach. I got a real good relationship with Alabama.”
It’s that time of the year. Rumors are swirling about the future of certain head coaches, and with what’s going on at Auburn, Gene Chizik could be looking for a job in the offseason. The Tigers have the No. 7 recruiting class in the country, according to ESPN, but what happens to those recruits if the coaching staff is let go? Sources say top commitments Carl Lawson and Dee Liner are already looking around at other schools, and Alabama is a potential destination for both recruits. ESPN 150 wide receiver Earnest Robinson said he would look elsewhere if Chizik is let go, and the Tide have recently been to Pinson Valley High School to see the in-state star. It could go from bad to worse for Auburn after the season.
As reported by ESPN’s Blair Angulo on Wednesday, four-star cornerback and USC commitment Jalen Ramsey set up his official visit to Alabama for Jan. 11. He’s planning to take an official visit to USC the following weekend, which he says will be his last visit. Ramsey, who hails from Brentwood, Tenn., is obviously much closer to Tuscaloosa than Los Angeles, and don’t think the UA coaching staff won’t use that against the Trojans. The Brentwood Academy star visited Alabama for a game this season, and the Tide look like the team with the best chance to flip him. Florida could also be a consideration, if the Gators can get him back for an official visit.
Alabama is running out of spots in the 2013 recruiting class, so when a prospect pops up on the radar this late, it’s likely the Tide don’t have enough room for him. Such is the case with Pinson Valley High School linebacker Zach Cunningham. He has received close to 10 scholarship offers in the last week, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed. The UA staff is high on his senior film, and Saban is expected to review it this week. Even if all goes well, there might not be a spot for Cunningham in this class, but a grayshirt is still a possibility. For Cunningham, a lifelong Tide fan, there’s a strong possibility he would take a grayshirt offer from Alabama over offers from other schools.
“I tell everybody I call, he’s the best football player on the field every Friday night,” Pinson Valley coach Matt Glover said.