Alabama gets split signing day decisions

BY foxsports • February 3, 2011

Alabama coach Nick Saban went in search of athletic defensive linemen and a few imposing blockers on offense.

The Crimson Tide has stocked up on both and apparently isn't giving up hope of bringing in the two biggest lineman prizes.

Alabama added 14 signees Wednesday to the nine that have already arrived on campus. But the Tide might still be in the mix for Maryland offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio and South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney - the two most highly touted targets. Kouandjio committed to rival Auburn on national TV, but appears to be still considering his options since he didn't fax his national letter of intent.

Clowney, the nation's top-rated prospect, is waiting to commit - possibly on Feb. 14, his birthday - and is considering Alabama, Clemson and South Carolina, according to recruiting services.

Saban can only discuss players that have already signed, but made a couple of cryptic references to other possibilities.

''This is the number of players that we could take and we could add one or so to that if the opportunity presents itself in the future,'' he said.

As for three targeted offensive tackles, he said, ''we ended up in second place all three times - maybe.''

The class already includes six defensive linemen, four wide receivers, three offensive linemen and the nation's top-rated safety, Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix.

Opinions were somewhat mixed on the group as it stands. rated Alabama's class No. 1, had it No. 3 and ranked it seventh-best.

The Tide had an up-and-down singing day, landing North Carolina defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan and Russellville running back Brent Calloway - who reversed field again after changing his commitment from Alabama to Auburn in January.

Alabama appeared to lose out on two big targets. Kouandjio (Kwan'-jo) of Hyattsville, Md., said he would sign with Auburn while Columbus, Ga., running back Isaiah Crowell opted for Georgia.

The Tide's class featured Orlando high school teammates, Clinton-Dix and running back Demetrius Hart. rates Clinton-Dix as the top safety and No. 7 overall prospect and declares Hart the nation's top all-purpose back.

Hart is among nine signees already enrolled. That group includes former Tennessee starter Aaron Douglas, who could be the leading candidate to replace James Carpenter at left tackle, and another big junior college defensive tackle in Australian Jesse Williams.

The last such player Alabama signed was two-time All-American Terrence Cody. Williams is a little smaller at 6-foot-4, 330 pounds.

Xzavier Dickson and Pagan headline a group of defensive ends that bring some of the athleticism Saban said the Tide was missing last season, other than Marcell Dareus.

Dareus is skipping his senior season and is a projected Top 10 NFL draft pick.

''The year before on third down, we could put fresh guys in that were athletic because they didn't have to play all the time,'' Saban said. ''This year the guys that were playing all the time still had to play on third down.

''One of the goals in recruiting this year was to get more athletic up front on defense, more guys that could pass rush, more guys that could move and push the pocket in the middle and affect the quarterback. Jeoffrey Pagan can do that. He's a very good athlete. He can run. He's got good athleticism. We got several guys that sort of fit that profile. I think that will help us.''

The early enrollees also includes middle linebacker Trey DePriest, who is rated No. 1 at his position and sixth overall by, and quarterback Phillip Ely. DePriest is from Springfield, Ohio, and chose the Tide over home-state power Ohio State.

Alabama also had some opportunities for possible playing time open up with the early departure of tailback Mark Ingram and wide receiver Julio Jones.

Marvin Shinn, the Tide's earliest verbal commitment, and Bradley Sylve were the most highly rated receivers.

Saban said Calloway will start out at running back but he was also rated as one of the top 10 outside linebacker prospects.

''We think he's one of the best football players in the state,'' Saban said. ''Certainly he could play on either side of the ball.''

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