October 6, 2010

2012 stars turn out for UA vs. UF

When Alabama defeated the Florida Gators in a 31-6 route in Bryant-Denny Stadium, they did so not just in front of 100,000 fans and millions of television viewers but also in front of a massive collection of elite high school talent. Included in the group were some of the South's top prospects for the Class of 2012 and many of those elite juniors came away with strong impressions.

Georgia OL has Tide on top

The Peach State has been a consistent source of talent for the Crimson Tide during the Nick Saban era and Lindale (GA) Pepperell defensive tackle Dakota Ball is the latest Georgia star to receive heavy recruiting attention from the Tide staff.

"I showed up at the Mal Moore facility along with some other recruits and we all got to tour the building and see the weight room and the other facilities there," said Ball, who was in Tuscaloosa for an unofficial visit. "Then we headed over to the stadium for the game. I was at the Alabama vs. Penn State game earlier this season and the difference from that game to this one was amazing. The crowd was great before but it seemed like there was something special about this game. They were just through the roof in the first half. Eventually they kind of calmed down but it was just because Alabama was beating Florida so badly."

"I mainly focused on the defensive line during the game. They were getting to the quarterback pretty consistently and I think that was the key to the whole game for Alabama. Coach Saban has told me he thinks I would be capable of playing inside or outside for Alabama up front so I was trying to watch everybody on the line and seeing how they were able to be effective at their different spots."

The6-foot-3, 285-pound lineman has been high on the Tide from early on and the visit to Tuscaloosa only reaffirmed his strong feelings for Alabama.

"As of right now, Alabama is definitely my favorite. I'm probably going to take a look at some schools out West just because I don't really know anything about PAC-10 football and I'd like to learn a little more but for now, Alabama is the team to beat."

UA's love for D-line impresses MS star

Another of the South's top junior defensive linemen was on campus in Long Beach (MS) star , a 6-foot-5, 335-pound defensive tackle who has been dominating his competition since his sophomore season. James said he was impressed to see how much recognition the Crimson Tide defensive line receives from the fans in the stands.

"The crowd was outstanding. Probably the biggest thing that impressed me was how the fans reacted to their defensive line when they were being introduced and during the game too," James said. "They showed their linemen a lot of love and seemed like they really understood what a big impact they were having on the game. Everybody cheers for the big playmakers on offense but not that many schools really show that kind of love to their defensive players like Alabama does. That was pretty cool."

James' massive frame makes him an ideal nose guard candidate for the Tide's 3-4 defense and the Tide coaching staff has pitched James on the importance of the role he could play in the Alabama defense.

"I talked with Coach Saban and some of the other coaches after the game. They told me they would love to use me as a nose guard or maybe a 3-technique tackle. They said I just need to keep working hard on my grades and stay in shape like I am now."

"So far, I love Alabama and I have always liked LSU so they are still up there for me too. Those are probably my top two right now."

Prattville star blown away by atmosphere

The Prattville Lions have had a strong start to their season thanks in large part to their bevy of talented juniors. One of top college prospects on the squad is junior defensive tackle [db]Justin Shanks and the 6-foot-2, 255-pound star was in Tuscaloosa for the Tide's big win.

"It was pretty much the perfect game environment.  The team was just so ready to play and foaming at the mouth," Shanks said. "The crowd was hostile and the team was hostile.  I think Alabama could have beat anyone Saturday night."

Shanks said he was particularly impressed with the play of Marcel Darues and the rest of the Tide's tenacious pass rush that kept Florida on its heels all night.

"The defensive line dominated the game.  Marcel (Dareus) had his breakout game.  I knew when he got healthy no one was going to be able to block him.  Same for Courtney Upshaw.  Other teams are starting to wear down, and Alabama just gets stronger."

"I think Alabama would like to use me like they use Marcel and play me at both end and tackle.  I would probably play inside more than outside in college because I am going to keep getting bigger and stronger already."

The Crimson Tide may have picked up one more positive in the eyes of Shanks when his Prattville teammate Caleb Gulledge pledged his commitment to the Tide following the game on Saturday night.

"Caleb gave me a heads up he was going to go ahead and get it over with.  He wants me to join him, but I am going to take some more time before I decide anything.  I want to visit Florida, LSU, Auburn and Alabama again before I decide anything for sure."

UA's dominance no surprise for star QB

One of the highest-profile prospects in the state of Alabama for the class of 2012, Hueytown quarterback Jameis Winston has grown up around Alabama football and said that while the Tide's domination of the Gators was impressive, the electrifying atmosphere in Bryant-Denny Stadium is something he's come to expect in Tuscaloosa.

"It was the same as it always is, a great atmosphere and great time although it was probably as loud as I have ever heard it," Winston said. "The stadium was rocking and Florida didn't really have a chance.  They had been talking some trash, and I figured Alabama would take it personally so they beat them down."

While at the game, Winston said he took the opportunity to hang out with several of the state's top 2012 prospects, including two players Winston has known for many years.

"I hung out with Reggie (Ragland) and Kwon (Alexander) and we watched the game together and just talked about what Alabama was doing during the game.  I always enjoy hanging out with those dudes.  It was a fun experience and the Alabama coaches made sure they made time for everyone who came to visit even though it seemed like a 1000 guys were there."

...More... To continue reading this article you must be a member. Sign Up Now!