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Friday, February 22, 2013
Storylines heading into Tide's junior day

By Greg Ostendorf

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- It’s setting up to be another big weekend for the University of Alabama as it prepares to host the second junior day of the new year and first since signing day.

The talent won’t be quite on par this time around as many of the top 2014 prospects attended the first junior day in January, but the Crimson Tide still anticipate a mix of talented  juniors, sophomores and freshmen to be on campus this Saturday.

Also, new assistant coaches Mario Cristobal and Billy Napier, who’s expected to take over for Mike Groh as wide receivers coach, will get their first taste of recruiting at Alabama.

Big man on campus

Alabama hosted the majority of elite Georgia prospects for their first junior day in January, but ESPN Watch List defensive tackle Elisha Shaw couldn’t make it because he was taking the SAT. He’s not missing the Tide’s second junior day. Shaw, who still has Alabama and Georgia as his top schools, will visit Tuscaloosa on Saturday. He will likely be the top prospect on campus, and there’s no doubt the UA staff will make him a priority while he’s in town. After visiting Auburn on Monday, Shaw said he’ll commit when he feels it in his heart where he wants to go. Although it’s unlikely, there’s a chance he pulls the trigger over the weekend. Even if he holds off, the Tide could take over as the new leader if the trip goes well.

Samaje Perine
Class of 2014 tailback Samaje Perine would love to get an offer from Alabama.
Passing priority

Because of the position he plays as well as his talent, ESPN Watch List quarterback Jacob Park might be the most high-profile recruit visiting Alabama on Saturday. The 6-foot-3, 197-pound signal caller doesn’t have an offer from the Tide yet as he will likely have to earn it at camp in the summer, but he’s still considered one of the top quarterbacks in the country. He already has offers from Auburn, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Tennessee and Virginia Tech. If he enjoys the junior day this weekend, don’t be surprised if he holds out to compete for that Tide offer. Alabama is also expected to host fellow Watch List signal caller Tyler Harris, The Georgia native visited UA for the home opener last season against Western Kentucky.

Peach State teammates

The majority of recruits expected to attend Alabama’s junior day this weekend don’t have scholarship offers yet. However, Camden County High School teammates Kalvaraz Bessent and Chris Williams both claim Tide offers, and the duo will be in Tuscaloosa on Saturday. Bessent, a 6-foot-1, 185-pound cornerback, received his offer from Alabama on national signing day. He also recently picked up an offer from Georgia at the Dawgs’ junior day. Between the two, Williams is more likely commit to Alabama. He grew up in Wetumpka, Ala., and was a fan of the Tide. For both Bessent and Williams, it will be their first visit to UA.

Lone Star offers

Alabama’s first junior day didn’t produce any commitments, and it could be no different on Saturday. In general, the staff has been more selective with the 2014 class, but there could still be a handful of new offers given out this weekend. Offer candidates include a trio of prospects from Texas -- running back Samaje Perine, tight end Koda Martin and wide receiver Armani Watts. Perine grew up in the state of Alabama and would love to pick up an offer from the Tide. Martin is a bigger tight end (6-foot-6, 245 pounds) who could be an effective blocker in the ground game. He already has offers from Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas A&M and UCLA among others. Watts recently visited LSU for its junior day.