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Tide class meets needs at key positions
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BeliefBlazer Offline
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The number of signees, at least on Wednesday's National Signing Day, stretched all the way to 33.

The first goal, according to Alabama head coach Mike Shula and the members of his coaching staff, is to have 25 scholarship newcomers when practice begins in August. The ultimate goal, however, is for a large chunk of those 25 newcomers to find their way onto thedepth chart.

"I look down at this list of student athletes and how they'll fit into our depth chart," Shula said during a press conference at the UA football complex to discuss his second recruiting class as the Alabama head coach. "The word that sticks out in my mind is competition. I think we've created some real good competition."

Scott Kennedy, a recruiting analyst for Scout.com, said Alabama's class was among the top five in the Southeastern Conference.

"If you're recruiting top-five talent in the SEC you've got enough talent to play for championships," Kennedy said.

"They got their linemen early, their solid class early, but then they started getting their star power late, especially at the skill position players," Kennedy said.

Overall, Shula felt that needs were met at running back, defensive line and cornerback. The Tide signed four running backs, seven defensive linemen and two cornerbacks. Shula compared those positions to last year's wide receiver crop which produced three true freshman contributors.

"Last year, we played 11 true freshmen (and) 13 total of the 19 signees," Shula said. "There's a good chance we could play close to that many this year."

Before that happens, however, Shula has to trim eight signees from the class. He said on Wednesday that he has a plan, which was similar to a year ago when a class of 27 signees turned into 19 players reporting in August, but didn't elaborate any further. That plan will certainly include some signees who fail to qualify and possibly some grayshirts. Two of this year's class - quarterback John Parker Wilson and offensive lineman Drew Davis - were grayshirts this past fall.

Shula said predicting the qualifying status of any signee can be dicey at this point. For example, Desmond Jennings, a wide receiver signee from Pinson Valley, was a signing-day surprise who many believe will begin in junior college. But current Alabama players Le'Ron McClain and Ezekial Knight were in similar positions in their final high school year and both played as true freshmen.

On the other hand, defensive tackle Lorenzo Washington and tight end Travis McCall were projected as qualifiers on signing day last year but both came up short. Washington attended Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia and McCall took care of his work at home in Prattville and both signed again on Wednesday.

"Who knows?" Shula said. "I try in my own mind to compare it to last year at this time. It feels like we're in better shape. You never know. Some guys you think will be in good shape, all the sudden are struggling. I do know things that make me feel good are guys like Le'Ron McClain and Ezekial Knight got qualified right at the end and are doing real well in school."

While Shula didn't pinpoint how many players were potential grayshirts he did say, "I don't think you'd ever want to go more than three."

Wednesday was more about the players Shula expects to be in Tuscaloosa in the fall. He spoke in glowing terms of running backs Ali Sharrief, Glen Coffee, Roy Upchurch and Mike Ford and said the Tide landed quality quarterbacks in Wilson, Jimmy Barnes and Jimmy Johns.

Shula said McCall's versatility made him a key signee and the Prattville High graduate will begin his career at tight end. He said Washington and Hargrave teammate Brandon Fanney are key additions along the offensive line and added that Louisiana product Zach Schreiber will begin at defensive end. Jennings and Nick Kyles are potential impact players at wide receiver.

Only 13 of the 33 signees played at Alabama high schools. Shula said that was more circumstance than a change in philosophy and added that "our focus every year is still going to be the state of Alabama, first."

He also spent part of Wednesday with his focus planted firmly toward next year's signing class.

"We were just talking about next year what is going to be some of our needs," Shula said. "That's probably the best way to answer that question. We didn't sign a fullback that we think we're going to need. Linebacker, we're a little light numbers-wise there. Those two positions will be (a priority)."
02-04-2005 01:46 AM
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UCrolltide36 Offline
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Post: #2
 
wait... Fanney and Washington are going to play on the offensive line?
02-04-2005 09:17 AM
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BeliefBlazer Offline
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Post: #3
 
Wahington is a defensive tackle, is he not?
02-04-2005 01:42 PM
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Blazer85 Offline
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Post: #4
 
BamaBlazer, are you a Bama fan and a UAB fan?
02-04-2005 03:16 PM
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BeliefBlazer Offline
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Post: #5
 
Sure am.... and I went to college for a while at Mississippi State.
02-05-2005 12:13 AM
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