15 January 2010
It's that time again! With the recent news of players leaving early for the NFL, and National Signing Day rapidly approaching, it is once again time to take a look at Alabama's scholarship numbers situation.
Here's the basic information that you need to know if you are new to this:
- Every football team in Division 1 Bowl Sub-Division is allowed to have 85 student-athletes on scholarship.
- No group of incoming football scholarship student-athletes can exceed 25 players.
- The SEC has imposed a rule prohibiting its teams from signing any more than 28 players in any one class.
- Alabama has 66 scholarship football players returning.
- The Tide has 11 members of the 2010 recruiting class that are enrolling early, though some of those will actually count towards the 2009 number. (More on that later)
- That means that Alabama has 77 players who are currently receiving football scholarships.
Obviously Bama is going to add more guys on February 3, so this number will increase. It is thought by many that Alabama will likely sign the SEC limit of 28 players in this signing class. If the Tide does that, and has three players count towards the 2009 class, then they could bring in all of the remaining players in the signing class.
If that happens, Bama would add 17 more scholarship players to the mix, giving the Tide 94 players on scholarship - which would obviously be 9 too many.
So how does Bama get that 94 whittled down to 85? The answer to that will come in a little bit. First, let's deal with the 77 players who are currently on scholarship.
Seniors (12) - Earl Alexander, James Carpenter, Luther Davis, Preston Dial, Terry Grant, Darius Hanks, Greg McElroy, Brian Motley, Taylor Pharr, David Ross, Milton Talbert, Chavis WilliamsJuniors (22) - Mark Barron, John Michael Boswell, Josh Chapman, Marcell Dareus, Nick Gentry, Brandon Gibson, Demetrius Goode, Robby Green, Jeramie Griffin, Jerrell Harris, Dont'a Hightower, Mark Ingram, Julio Jones, Phelon Jones, Chris Jordan, Marquis Maze, Alfred McCullough, Brad Smelley, Chris Underwood, Courtney Upshaw, William Vlachos, Alex Watkins
Sophomores (16) - Undra Billingsley, Michael Bowman, Glenn Harbin, Star Jackson, Nico Johnson, Barrett Jones, Dre Kirkpatrick, Robert Lester, Tyler Love, Kerry Murphy, Trent Richardson, B.J. Scott, Damion Square, Chance Warmack, Michael Williams, Rod Woodson
Freshmen (16) - Jonathan Atchison, Kenny Bell, Chris Bonds, D.J. Fluker, Kendall Kelly, Eddie Lacy, Mike Marrow, A.J. McCarron, William Ming, Brandon Moore, Kevin Norwood, Tana Patrick, Darrington Sentimore, Anthony Steen, Ed Stinson, Kellen Williams
Newly Enrolled Players (11) - Cade Foster, Jalston Fowler, John Fulton, Brandon Lewis, Chad Lindsay, Darius McKeller, DeMarcus Milliner, Anthony Orr, Austin Shepherd, Phillip Sims, Petey Smith
Brandon Lewis is a Junior College transfer. He will participate in spring practice, and will be a junior in the fall. Darius McKeller, Anthony Orr, and Petey Smith were all members of the 2009 signing class, but they deferred enrollment until 2010. They will participate in spring practice, and will be true freshmen in the fall. The other seven guys listed above will also participate in spring practice, and they will also be true freshmen in the fall.
So that's how we get to 77. In an attempt to avoid the two most obvious questions:
- Travis Sikes is still a member of the football team, but it is believed that he is not on scholarship.
- Wesley Neighbors is still a member of the football team, but it is believed that he is making use of the Bryant Scholarship.
Because Bama is well under the 85 limit at this time, the Tide is perfectly fine entering spring practice with this full group. It is possible that we might hear of a player transferring, taking a medical hardship scholarship, or moving on with their post-football life in the next few weeks, but most of the attrition is likely to come after the end of the spring semester.Editor's Note - PLEASE, for the love of all that is holy, learn to spell the name of Bama's players. Phillip Simms is the Super Bowl winning quarterback from the New York Giants, and current CBS announcer. Phillip Sims (ONE M) is the current Alabama football player.
With Bama currently under the limit of 85, obviously this is more of a look past signing day and spring practice, and more towards the opening of fall camp and how the Tide will fit a full recruiting class under the limit.
Bama currently has 16 other players committed for the class of 2010. They are (Edited to reflect the re-commitment of Blake Sims on 1/17/10)
Keenan Allen, Deion Belue, Ronald Carswell, Corey Grant, Alfy Hill, Adrian Hubbard, Harrison Jones, Wilson Love, Keiwone Malone, CJ Mosley, Nick Perry, Blake Sims, Brian Vogler, DeAndrew White, Jarrick Williams, Jay Williams
The first problem is, of course, fitting an entire class under the NCAA imposed limit of 25. With 11 players already enrolled, it would look like these commitments would push the Tide up to 26. That is not the case, however. Alabama brought in a full class of 25 players in 2009, but three of them were able to count towards the 2008 signing class. It looked as though only two would be able to count but Jermaine Preyear leaving without having been enrolled during season opened another spot - this same thing happened with Jamar Taylor the year before.
With three of the players able to count towards 2008, that meant that Bama only counted 22 initial offers for the 2009 season. That leaves three spots open, and any three of the above players can count towards that total. For the sake of ease, let's just say that the three guys who deferred enrollment - Petey Smith, Anthony Orr, Darius McKeller - are those three guys.
That means that eight of the remaining players will count towards the 2010 class. Throw in 16 more commitments, and you get a total of 24. It is important to note that a player signing does not guarantee that he will enroll. Bama saw four players sign in 2009 that didn't make it to campus in the fall, with the three guys mentioned above deferring enrollment and Quinton Dial heading to junior college.
So, according to NCAA rules, you can sign as many guys as you would like, but you are limited to only bringing in 25 guys. Unfortunately, due to Ole Miss signing a ridiculous 37 players in 2009, the SEC now has a limit of 28 in place. Bama actually has room to sign the 23 players enrolled/committed, as well as five more. Obviously, if the Tide does sign 28, then three of those players will not be able to enroll. In that case, if academics do not force three guys to enroll in prep school or junior college, we will see three more guys defer enrollment - or "greyshirt".
It is expected that Bama will receive commitments from linemen Arie Kouanjio and James Stone in the next few weeks to likely close out the recruiting class. Signing day isn't until February 3, though, so things could certainly change. Saying that the recruitment of 18 year old kids is "fluid" would be a bit of an understatement.
We are planning to have full signing day coverage again this year. So set aside some time on Feb. 3rd to join our live chat.
Getting back to the task at hand, a full group of 25 enrolling would put Bama 9 players over the limit of 85 scholarships. The NCAA requires that all student-athletes who will not have their scholarship renewed have to be informed by July 1, though those situations aren't always made public until fall practice opens.
So how will this attrition happen? Here are the ways:
- We've already seen Rolando McClain and Kareem Jackson declare for the NFL Draft. The deadline has already passed, so these two guys appear to be the only two going this route. But it's possible that another guy or two declared without making his intentions known.
- Players can transfer. Some guys will leave the program due to a lack of playing time or a personal situation that leads to move closer to home.
- Players can simply move on with their life. Bama has several players who have already earned their degree that aren't likely to see playing time in 2010. With the NFL not an option for these guys, they might simply decide to move on.
- Players can be moved to a medical hardship scholarship. This allows them to remain on full scholarship, but it effectively ends their football career at Alabama. We saw this happen with Ivan Matchett prior to the 2009 season.
- Players can be asked to leave the team. That, apparently, happened prior to the 2009 season with Alonzo Lawrence and Jermaine Preyear. It's technically incorrect to say that they were kicked off of the team, but that is essentially what happened.
- Players can fail to qualify academically. Bama had zero players with academic problems in the fall semester, so this is unlikely. However, studies have continually shown that collegiate student-athletes perform better academically during their competitive season. So while this is unlikely, it is a possibility.
- Players can get into off of the field trouble that causes them to be kicked off of the team. These situations are wildly unpredictable, but they unfortunately do happen. They happen less frequently in a well-disciplined program, but they do happen.
If any guys fall into category #1, we'll hear about it over the weekend. There really aren't any realistic options here, so don't expect it.
There are always a lot of heavy rumors about guys in category #2. Sometimes those rumors are exactly true, and sometimes they are simply rumors. Mass opinion on the internet at this point in time last year had Terry Grant playing for North Alabama in 2009. He obviously didn't. Until a guy leaves the team, he's still here. And I expect it will be after spring practice before we hear about any guys leaving, especially since school has already started.
The most obvious position where there will be rumors of transfer is at quarterback, where Star Jackson has a decision to make. By all accounts he is enrolled in, and attending classes at Alabama, which means that he has not made a decision to transfer. According to Coach Saban, A.J. McCarron had passed Jackson to be the backup quarterback. With freshman phenom Phillip Sims added to the mix, Jackson could see himself as deep as fourth on the depth chart. He could also have a great spring and reclaim the backup spot.
Quarterback isn't the only position where this situation exists, and as such, the 2010 spring practice will likely be a very telling one for several Tide players. There could be a guy or two who decide to go ahead and transfer prior to spring practice, in order to get a head start at their new school. But each day of class that passes makes it that much more difficult for them to enroll at a new school for the spring semester.
If any transfers are going to happen prior to the spring, expect to hear about them before the end of the month.
There are a couple of guys who could fall into category #3. Taylor Pharr and David Ross both have their degrees, and are unlikely to have starting positions in the fall. That doesn't mean that they'll leave the team, though. Ross has more potential for playing time than Pharr, but some guys try to squeeze out every last instant of eligibility that they can.
Typically when a guy falls into category #4 we have heard of some lingering injuries that might lead to it. The only guy who really falls into that category right now is Terry Grant. He missed most of the second half of the season with some muscle pulls. Those should heal by the beginning of spring practice, but if he isn't cleared for contact by then, don't be shocked to see him take this route. Some injuries are not made public until they reach the point of no return, though. That was the case with Matchett last season.
Categories #5, 6, and 7 are impossible to predict, so I won't even begin to try. Hopefully there won't be any guys who fall into these categories.
If no one falls into any of these categories, then obviously Bama will have to have nine guys defer enrollment from the class of 2010. That's unlikely, though, as things have a way of working themselves out.
We'll keep an eye on this situation and let you know any time that there is a change to things.
Until then, the magic number is 9.
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