The new staff was quite UNpleasantly surprised to learn that several of the 15 publicly committed athletes would not (could not) be qualified, which meant Price and his coaches would spend their first several weeks at The Capstone working very hard to quickly identify and sway talented (and qualified) athletes to the Tide.
(Remember that while Randy Ross did work with the previous staff, he had very different duties than he's handling now. So the academic status of Bama's committed recruits was a surprise to him as well.)
Over-signing is, of course, still an option. But with NCAA limits on both initial scholarships and total scholarships, it is VERY important that 18 qualified SEC-caliber players report next August. And that job is what's occupying the staff's almost total attention right now.
Nine athletes visited Alabama this past weekend. Three of the visitors were listed as public commitments to the Tide before they arrived on campus.
- Will Roach WR/SS, 6-2, 195, Killen,AL
- D.J. Chambers WR/Ath, 5-11, 180, Highland Home, AL
- Jarod Parrish SS/Ath, 6-2, 180, Summerville, GA
Six other recruits tripped to Tuscaloosa this past weekend, two of whom are listed as commitments to other schools with the other four undecided.
- Antonio Cromartie CB/WR, 6-3, 195, Tallahassee, FL
- Dezmond Sherrod TE, 6-5, 225, Caledonia, MS
- Dustin Goodwin QB, 6-1, 188, Demopolis, AL
- Jai Miller WR, 6-4, 192, Selma, AL
- Kelcy McKissic-Luke QB/Ath, 6-1, 188, Phenix City, AL
- D.J. Norris LB/TE, 6-2, 235, Pace, FL
For Chambers, Roach, Cromartie and Goodwin, no real news is expected. Chambers and Roach remain solidly committed to the Tide. Cromartie will still probably end up signing with home-state FSU, and Goodwin will probably end up deciding between a scholarship to a smaller school or walking on at Alabama or Auburn.
But plenty of recruiting speculation surrounds Parrish, Sherrod, Miller, Luke and Norris.
Sherrod and Miller are both believed to be leaning toward Alabama. If they each heard those magic words this weekend from Head Coach Mike Price ("Son, we're offering you a scholarship to play for the Crimson Tide"), then a quick commitment would surprise no one.
Parrish's situation is different. He's from Georgia, committed to Alabama, but (at least recently) flirting with Tennessee. During his visit Parrish told BamaMag.com that he expected to end up at Alabama. But quotes taken during an actual visit may or may not still be true later in the week.
Despite playing his high school football in Pace, Florida, Norris grew up a fan of the Crimson Tide, and he was very disappointed when the previous staff essentially paid him little attention as a recruit. He was very happy to accept the new staff's offer of an official visit to the Alabama campus, despite being committed to the in-state Gators.
Norris is not a young man who would carelessly go back on a pledge, but he plans to major in Business. And several reports were that his visit to Tuscaloosa went extremely well, with Norris and his family essentially seeing and hearing everything they hoped for from both coaches and professors.
The Tide staff obviously hopes that Norris is one they can turn their way.
With two brothers already on the Alabama squad (Triandos and Nic), Kelcy Luke would seem to be an obvious candidate for a commitment switch as well. But throughout the recruiting process he has been lukewarm toward the Tide.
As the youngest brother, he may simply want to build his own reputation at a different school. Or, it's certainly possible that he believes the Auburn coaches when they tell him he'll play quarterback for them. Luke's Crimson family ties may well win out in the end, but that remains to be seen.