News from the Tennessee Valley Sports

Tide targets 2 ball carriers in final week

By Josh Cooper · 340-2460

TUSCALOOSA — Nick Saban and his staff are making the final push before signing day Wednesday with some pretty big targets in the fold.

According to, running back Joe McKnight of John Curtis High in River Ridge, La., was on campus this weekend looking at Alabama.

McKnight is considered by several recruiting services to be the top running back available in this year’s recruiting haul.

While McKnight may be the best all-around running back prospect, the most intriguing player that Alabama is interested in could be running back Noel Devine of North Fort Myers (Fla.) High.

Many recruiting services rate Devine as one of the most electric talents to come out of high school in a long time, but he has several personal issues.

He is the father of two children and was the center of a custody battle between former NFL star Deion Sanders and another family. Both of Devine’s parents died by the time he was 11, and he rarely talks to reporters.

Last week, Devine visited Tuscaloosa.

“The thing that caught my attention the most was when he said he felt comfortable on the campus and with the people,” North Fort Myers coach James Iandoli told “That was the most important thing for him when he started looking for a school. He wanted to feel like he was on the same page as the players and coaches.”

In an odd twist, Alabama could be competing for Devine with West Virginia, where its coach, Rich Rodriguez, spurned the Tide to remain with the Mountaineers. Devine visited West Virginia last weekend.

Last week, Alabama lost a quarterback. Robert Marve of Plant High in Tampa, Fla., announced he would sign with the University of Miami.

Before Marve made his decision, Alabama signed Nick Fanuzzi out of Churchill High in San Antonio.

“I wasn’t upset that they signed another quarterback — it was how I found out
about it,” Marve said to “They didn’t tell me they were even thinking about it.”

Meanwhile, Alabama landed in-state talent this past week when Dora defensive end Chavis Williams publicly committed to the Tide.

At 6-foot-5, 200 pounds, Williams is ranked as the 22nd best player in state by Rivals. He is a three-star prospect according to the site. Arkansas and Auburn also recruited him.

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