RECRUITING TALK: Could recruiting shed light on Alabama’s future offense?

UPDATE: Underwood may play fullback instead of TE, according to the Montgomery Advertiser. 
Another recruiting weekend past and another strong showing by Saban and the new Alabama staff.           

Over the weekend, the Tide landed Demetrice Goode. Goode is listed as a 3-star running back by and a 4-star by Goode of Chatham, Va. is 5’11” 200lbs with a 4.5 time in the 40. Goode informed Saban of his commitment Saturday during the basketball game. I guess the football players weren’t distracted by the pitiful play of the basketball team.

Saban also landed a commitment from Chris Underwood, a Vestavia Tight End, according to Internet reports. Underwood was not rated by or Which brings up an interesting point. Much of the recruiting reporting/evaluation is voodoo. In some instances, you have parents who will retain assistance in getting their kids higher rankings from recruiting services. So, not only is the recruiting evaluation subjective, the whole process is about as reliable as budget time in Montgomery.

That’s not to say there isn’t value in the recruiting rankings. There is. But it isn’t Gospel.

What offense might Alabama run in the future?
That’s the subject of much speculation. And with a great article in Sunday’s Birmingham News, Major Mastermind, about Major Applewhite’s offensive philosophy, perhaps we can begin putting together a few clues.

1. Saban’s focus is on athletic ability, not necessarily high school accomplishment. That’s a really big point to remember. Saban has a tendency to see raw ability and has success at improving the player. Alabama’s interest in Nick Fanuzzi was fueled not only by Marve’s weakness, but by Applewhite and Saban’s desire to find the most athletic persons available for every position. Fanuzzi is big and strong, but according to at least two high school sports observers, Fanuzzi isn’t the best passer Alabama has offered in the past few years. (That’s opinion, not fact…just like everything else recruiting “experts” say.)

2. Offering a tight end could indicate a real desire to improve both blocking for power running, and a desire to have a versatile passing attack. Tight ends are very important to running something similar to a I-formation in the pro style (think Dallas with Aikman and Smith in the backfield.) Tight ends are critical to any sophisticated passing attack from standard power formations. Remember the success Homer Smith had with Gary Hollingsworth at QB? Much of that success was fueled by a passing game that utilized every eligible receiver. And can there be any doubt about the usefulness of a good blocking tight end in the I-formation (or any formation for that matter)?

On defense, Saban wants bigger and faster. Luther Davis told that he wouldn’t have fit into the old defensive scheme at Alabama, but he believes he’ll fit into what Saban wants: “I weigh about 255 or 260, but with coach Saban the reason I am really drawn to Alabama is because everything he is trying to do is very similar to what he did when he came to LSU. He wants bigger ends.” To say the least, Saban wants to improve the defensive line. If nothing else comes from this class, we’ll have a very strong group of defensive linemen. And a good defensive line is the building block of any good defense.

Once more: Getting the best athletes, with the most up-side potential, is what we can expect with Saban’s recruiting. So, when Saban offers a recruit who hasn’t been on the national recruiting radar, it is safe to assume there is a good reason (ie: Underwood.) So, take heart. If he signs an unrated player or a two-star, then he has good reason. Plus, it just exposes some of the excessive hype and unreliability of recruiting sites. ALSO, when some prominent boosters of rivals begin to mock Saban’s decisions to offer some of these lesser-known players, you know Saban is on the right track. Call that a contrarian view if you like, but it is obvious Saban knows more about recruiting than Internet posters.

Rumors out of Knoxville
Rumors swirling from UT, according to Internet gossip mongers, indicate Fulmer’s wife wants Coach Phil Fulmer to retire, while they can still enjoy it. Some of the discontented Vols fans are happy–they remember it has been almost a decade (1998) since Fulmer won the SEC championship. For point of reference, Mike Dubose led Alabama to an SEC crown since Fulmer last accomplished that feat. It’ll be fun to watch what unfolds in the next year on the Fulmer situation.