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WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 2007
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ANALYSIS
Alabama recruiting class considered good, not great

By Josh Cooper
jcooper@decaturdaily.com 340-2460

If Nick Saban has a message to the rest of the teams in the Southeastern Conference after Alabama completes its class of recruits, it might be: wait until next year.

Alabama's class is good, but not great. There are few attention-grabbing recruits, but the way Saban went about recruiting after accepting the Crimson Tide's head coaching post Jan. 4 should make SEC foes a little nervous for the next recruiting haul.

"They've made contacts with kids in the Carolinas all the way to Texas, and I think they'll go even further next year," said J.C. Shurburtt, southern analyst for Rivals.com. "Alabama will go out and recruit nationally while keeping their base regional. That's been the thing that was the surprise."

While former Alabama coach Mike Shula normally dipped into Mississippi, Georgia and a little bit of the Florida Panhandle, Saban made inroads through the South and took players that rival schools thought they had.

On Tuesday, Alabama picked up Hoover defensive tackle Josh Chapman, who originally committed publicly to Auburn.

Also, Luther Davis from West Monroe, La., switched his public commitment from LSU to Alabama. Davis, a four-star defensive tackle, is considered a big steal for Saban, a former LSU head coach, as he tries to re-establish himself in his old recruiting area.

Dora defensive end Chavis Williams had told people that he was going to Arkansas, but he spurned the Razorbacks' offer to come to Alabama.

The Tide also went further West, grabbing quarterback Nick Fanuzzi from San Antonio-area Churchill High.

According to Shurburtt, the Tide ranks 14th nationally at the moment, but could move up as high as 13th or as far back as 16th on their list at the end of signing day.

Don't expect any surprises on the NCAA signing day Wednesday. While the Tide is somewhere in the mix for super prospect Joe McKnight, he is expected to sign with LSU or Southern Cal.

McKnight, a running back from River Ridge, La., did not visit Alabama's campus last weekend as Tide fans had hoped. It's unlikely Alabama will experience the same drama as last year when the Tide waited for Huffman lineman Andre Smith to make his decision.

College football staffs work to build relationships with recruits and their families early and follow up on them, but Saban and his assistants found that tough to do in roughly one month.

"They didn't have enough time," Shurburtt said.

"It's tough to come in and knock it out of the park, but what they did should be commended."

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