Monthly Archives: January 2012

Take a look inside how the recruiting services operate

On the eve of national signing day, this is an appropriate time to look back at a project I completed this time last year.

With all the focus placed on football recruiting, I thought it was important to look at the growing influence of the news services that feed the interest. So I wrote a multi-story package that ran before last signing day.

Take a look back since the idea behind remains relevant this year.

Story 1: Science of the stars

Not too long ago, Scott Kennedy’s friends thought he went nuts.

Follow recruiting?

As a career?

“Flash forward about five or six years and my friends’ wives are asking me where Terrelle Pryor was going to school,” Kennedy said.

And so the machine turns.

As the director of scouting at one of the two empires to college recruiting knowledge — Scout.com — the former high school soccer player and self-described “football geek” helped turn a hobby into a national obsession.

Annual subscriptions can run upwards of $100 for all the latest information, evaluations and insider information regarding the college decision-making process for 16-, 17- and 18-year-old blue-chip football and basketball players.

Click here to read the whole story.

Story 2: Coaches hope their puppies will hunt

TUSCALOOSA — The ink was barely dry on the 2010 signing class when Nick Saban stepped to the podium last February.

His preemptive strike was planned well in advance. He wasn’t waiting to face a single question about the strength of his latest recruiting class at the signing day news conference.

Saban said it was too early to claim victory or defeat with the 18 players who faxed their futures to Tuscaloosa that Wednesday morning.

Champions aren’t crowned by simply adding up stars on a website.

“Every year, I try to come up with some analogy to sort of put in perspective how you should rate recruiting classes,” Saban said that afternoon. “If we went out to buy a hunting dog and it was a puppy, we would buy it based on its potential, its lineage or whatever you want to call it in terms of breeding, and we would know probably when that dog grew up whether it was a good hunting dog or not. We’d never know until we put him out in the field and saw him actually go hunting, but we would buy it without knowing for sure what that result would be.

“I think recruiting is not an exact science and it takes about two years to really evaluate whether you had a good recruiting class or not.”

Click here for the rest.

Story 3: Saban’s 2008 recruiting class proved fruitful

TUSCALOOSA — The two main recruiting services don’t always agree, but there was a solid consensus achieved two years ago.

Nick Saban was sitting on a gold mine.

His signing class of 2008 sat atop both Scout.com and Rivals.com rankings of recruiting classes. The group was stockpiled with big-name prospects such as Julio Jones and Mark Barron.

But since the class also included a few high-profile misses, it’s an interesting study in how recruiting services can hit some spot-on and miss completely on others.

Rivals assigned just three stars to both Marcell Dareus and junior-college transfer Terrence Cody. Both were stars as Cody went in the second round of last year’s NFL draft and Dareus is expected to go in the first round this year.

Then there is the case of Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram — a three-star player coming out of Flint, Mich., according to Scout.

Click here to read the rest.

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Alabama sets A-Day, homecoming dates

Mark your calendars. The dates are in.

The A-Day game will be April 14 in Bryant-Denny Stadium. Kickoff time is still pending decisions from television networks.

The homecoming game is set for Oct. 27 when Mississippi State comes to Tuscaloosa. Kickoff time is still months away from official.

The last time Mississippi State was scheduled for Alabama’s homecoming game was 1985 when the Ray Perkins-coached Tide won 44-28.

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Respect leaves top JUCO cornerback ‘bored’ at times

 

This is the third and final part of the recruiting profiles leading up to Wednesday’s big national signing day. Take a look at top-ranked junior college cornerback Travell Dixon:

TUSCALOOSA — Respect is the cornerback’s ultimate motivator.

Dixon

Earn too much, though, and the action goes elsewhere. That’s what Eastern Arizona College’s Travell Dixon learned last fall as the nation’s top junior college cornerback.

The same dominance that landed him a spot in Alabama’s signing class discouraged opponents from throwing his way.

“A lot of times he’s bored because we put him on the best and he locks him up and takes him away,” said John O’Mera, Dixon’s coach at Eastern Arizona. “It’s tough to evaluate him because somebody would try him every once in a while and he’d pick it. It was probably a boring year for him because not many people attempted to try him.”

At 6-foot-2 and 190 pounds with a 4.4-second time in the 40-yard dash, he makes it hard for anyone to blame them.

That size makes him a logical candidate to replace the 6-3, 190-pound Dre Kirkpatrick, who left school a year early for the NFL draft.

Kirkpatrick also saw fewer balls thrown his direction as he proved himself in Tide coach Nick Saban’s defense, which is known for producing top defensive backs.

Saban also has a reputation for selectively recruiting junior college talent he thinks can contribute immediately.

Click here to read the rest of the story.

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Video of former Tide LB Eryk Anders’ MMA debut fight

The professional football route didn’t work out for former Tide linebacker Eryk Anders. (Remember him? He made the blindside hit on Garrett Gilbert that forced the BCS clinching fumble in the Rose Bowl two years ago).

Well, he has a new athletic endeavor in mind. He competed in his first mixed martial arts fight over the weekend in Cullman.

And he won.

Click here if you’d like to watch the Twitvid of the fight posted on the Twitter page of former Tide defensive back Will Lowery. I know nothing about this new sport, so make up your own mind on this one.

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Updating Alabama’s drop in latest RPI rankings

The slide continues for Alabama’s standing in the Ratings Percentage Index (or RPI).

After losing to South Carolina on the road and beating Arkansas at home, the Crimson Tide slipped from 29th to No. 36 in this week’s update courtesy of the NCAA.

The RPI is an important measure used by the NCAA tournament selection committee when selecting at-large teams for the postseason.

The Tide’s best win so far this season came in Puerto Rico over No. 31 Wichita State.  The highest-ranked teams to beat Alabama include Kentucky (No. 5) and Georgetown (No. 16).

Auburn checks in at No. 14o, down from No. 131 a week ago.

The lowest-rated team on the schedule, hands down, is Alabama A&M. It checks in at No. 341 — fourth lowest in Division I.

Click here for the complete rankings.

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Top JUCO cornerback, Tide commit ‘a model citizen’

Alabama landed the nation’s top junior college cornerback in Travell Dixon to help replace starters Dre Kirkpatrick and DeQuan Menzie.

Dixon

Coming from Eastern Arizona College, Dixon has the size of Kirkpatrick at 6-2, 190 pounds. His coach John O’Mera said Dixon also runs a 4.4-second 40-yard dash.

O’Mera couldn’t say enough about the character Dixon brought to Tuscaloosa.

“Not everybody can call on a junior college kid and say hey, this is a guy that’s just a great citizen,” O’Mera said. “We’ve never had any trouble with him. He’s a student that works real hard in the classroom and we never had any type of legal trouble or anything like that. He’s just been a model citizen and a model kid.”

Dixon was one of eight members of the 2012 class already on campus. He’ll be eligible for spring practice starting in March.

Click here to read more on recruiting and look for a full story on Dixon in tomorrow’s newspaper.

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Tide QB commit will prove recruiting services wrong say HS coach

 

This is Part II of III in the recruiting profile series leading up to Wednesday’s signing day. We feature quarterback Alec Morris in today’s newspaper.

TUSCALOOSA — Something about this recruiting process didn’t add up for Allen (Texas) High School coach Tom Westerberg.

Morris

His 6-3, strong-armed quarterback named Alec Morris has all the tools. Why isn’t he ranked among the nation’s elite?

Morris was rated a 3-star prospect on the 5-star scale used by the major recruiting services. Rivals.com ranked him the 30th-best quarterback in the country while Scout said he was No. 37. Only a few schools offered scholarships.

After he first committed to Wake Forest, Alabama entered the picture. Morris changed his pledge to the Tide in August and will sign as the only quarterback in Alabama’s class Wednesday.

“Once he gets there and people see him, they’ll figure out why we couldn’t figure out why he didn’t have more offers,” Westerberg said.

So Morris was undervalued in the recruiting process?

“I know he is,” Westerberg said. “He’ll be playing at Alabama and I wouldn’t doubt he’ll be playing past that at the next level.”

Scott Kennedy, the director of scouting for Scout.com, said the class of 2012 wasn’t “a strong year for quarterbacks.

“It was Jameis Winston or bust for me,” he said referencing the Hueytown quarterback committed to Florida State. “You see Alec Morris here, he’s serviceable. Alabama hasn’t needed to have Andrew Luck, Matt Barkley or Matt Stafford out there to win. So field generals are good.”

Click here to read the whole story for free.

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HS coach says Tide QB commit is perfect fit

Alabama took a few shots at the biggest quarterback prospects in the country for the 2012 signing class.

Morris

Jameis Winston said no thanks. Gunner Kiel also passed. So that left Alec Morris, the Texas quarterback who chose the Tide after originally committing to Wake Forest.

He’s a consensus 3-star recruit from football-mad Allen High School. (Read about it’s $60 million stadium here)

Morris’ high school coach Tom Westerberg said the the 6-foot-3 passer with a strong right arm will fit right into Alabama’s offense.

“He is more of a pro-style quarterback than the college spread quarterback that’s going to go run the ball all over the place,” Westerberg said. “It’s more of a game manager, but if you look at the national championship game, they won it because they could throw the football. That’s what Alec brings to the table.”

Read much more about Morris in tomorrow’s newspaper.

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Video of Scott Cochran’s screaming baseball commercial

Alabama football strength and conditioning coach Scott Cochran is quite the star. He’s now the spokesman for the Tide baseball ticket office.

This is the video shown at all Alabama basketball games that strongly encourages all to check out the ball field this spring. I missed the first part, but you get the point.

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The basketball game story from Alabama’s win over Arkansas

The headline should explain the post. Why waste any more time. Start reading now.

TUSCALOOSA — Forget the 3-point line. Alabama did it one at a time Saturday afternoon.

Crawling out of its painful four-game losing streak, the Crimson Tide hammered away at Arkansas from the free-throw line. Slipping away with a 72-66 win meant nailing 20 of 25 without defenders, while missing all but two of 15 from the perimeter.

Oh, and toss in a little of that high-pressure defense, and Alabama (14-7, 3-4 SEC) found the slump-busting recipe for its 500th win in an antsy Coleman Coliseum.

Struggling veterans Tony Mitchell and JaMychal Green broke out of their own respective downturns to spark the final surge against the Razorbacks.

The top two offensive threats scored seven straight points late in the second half to give Alabama the lead for good.

Green had 10 of his 14 after halftime, while Trevor Releford had a game-high 18. Mitchell chipped in 11, and Andrew Steele came off the bench to score a career-high 11 and dish out six assists — a season high for any Alabama player.

It came down to aggressive play on the offensive end, Steele said.

“I think we took advantage of the way they wanted to guard us a lot of things,” he said. “I think our will to win was a lot greater than it has been in the past. You can tell in our eyes that we were not going to give up because we needed that one.”

Click here to read the rest.

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Top-ranked kicking recruit knows pressure moments

Give a read over the first of three recruiting profiles that you can see in the next few newspapers. Today, the subject is kicker and Alabama commit  Adam Griffith.

TUSCALOOSA — From his seat in Bryant-Denny Stadium on an early November night, Adam Griffith saw the perils of college football kicking.

Griffith

He was on a visit the day Crimson Tide specialists missed four of six kicks in the 9-6 overtime loss to LSU. It made an impact.

“I think for the first time there, he felt the pressure of being a college kicker,” said Hal Lamb, Griffith’s high school coach.

As the nation’s No. 1 high school place-kicker, according to two recruiting services, the Calhoun (Ga.) High School senior faced his share of tense moments. That, and his character, Lamb said, should help his transition to college.

Griffith is committed to sign as part of Alabama’s top-ranked recruiting class Wednesday. Less than two months earlier, the weight of a state championship landed on the shoulders of the Polish-born kicker.

Foreshadowing Jeremy Shelley’s five-kick BCS title game performance, Griffith nailed four in the Class AA title game Dec. 9. His 32-yarder in overtime beat Buford, led by fellow Alabama commit Dillon Lee, 27-24 after making a 46-yard field goal earlier in the game.

Lamb said Griffith was true from as deep as 52 yards in the undefeated run to the Georgia Dome this past fall.

“I wouldn’t hesitate to put him out there 55 or less,” Lamb said. “It didn’t matter what the conditions were. He’s a special talent. That’s for sure.”

Click here to read the rest.

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Reports: Alabama lands three commitments for 2013 football class

It’s not too soon to think about next year. With a full load of commitments heading into signing day Wednesday, the Crimson Tide football team picked up three commitments for the next class this afternoon.

Alabama was hosting junior day, and it appears to have paid off.

The recruiting services report running back Altee Tenpenny, athlete Aldarius Stewart, and receiver Raheem Falkins all gave their pledge to Nick Saban today.

All three held major offers from big time schools, Scout.com reported. All commitments are non-binding until scholarship papers are signed in February of their senior year.

Read more about the commitments in Sunday’s newspaper.

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Anthony Grant explains Trevor Lacey’s second-half absence

The Tide fought through most of the second half of its 72-66 win over Arkansas today without its top freshman. Guard Trevor Lacey checked out with 16:26 left and never returned.

He sat at the end of the bench beyond the walk-ons dressed in sweat suits.

“We just felt like there were some other guys who were doing a good job on the court,” coach Anthony Grant said.

The SEC Network television crew reportedly said Lacey was out because of back pain. Asked if that was true, Grant just said “no.”

Lacey finished with two points ― his lowest total since cracking the starting lineup nine games ago.

Nick Jacobs earned the start and scored six points to pace the freshmen.

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Video of Alabama winning 500th game in Coleman, ending losing skid

Arkansas made it interesting, but Alabama’s struggling veterans took control in the closing moments to win 72-66 in Coleman Coliseum.

With major implications for the NCAA tournament transcript, Crimson Tide upperclassmen took over. JaMychal Green scored 10 of his 14 points in the second half.

Trevor Releford had 18 to lead the Tide, which shot 50 percent from the field after the last four rough offensive performances ended in losses.

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Panoramic look at Alabama-Arkansas basketball crowd

Click to enlarge.

Halftime update: Alabama leads 37-30. A few notes:

  • Tide outscored Arkansas 20-9 over the last 10 minutes of the half.
  • The Hogs made 3 of 4 attempts from 3-point range in opening minutes, but went 1-for-5 after that.
  • Arkansas made just one field goal in final 8:30. Last make came with just under 5 minutes to play.
  • Trevor Releford’s 12 points leads the way. He had 8 in the final 7:15.
  • Tony Mitchell had 7 points including an early 3-pointer.

—–

Not a bad crowd in Coleman Coliseum this afternoon for Arkansas at Alabama. It was announced as a sell out, but there are a few clumps of empty seats.

The biggest holes are found in the student section. Follow the game action on Twitter.

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