TideNation brings you another edition of The O-zone, a confidential look inside Alabama recruiting. Get the latest updates from the gridiron and the hardwood as it pertains to the Crimson Tide.
The day has finally come. After pushing it back and pushing it back again, ESPN 150 athlete Derrick Henry will announce his college decision Friday at 3 p.m. EST from his high school in Yulee, Fla. He will choose between Alabama and Tennessee. Henry, who originally committed to Georgia last summer, nearly pushed the decision back even further because he wanted to visit Athens, Ga., one last time. However, after taking his official visit to Alabama over the weekend, he decided he was ready to pull the trigger. That has to bode well for Crimson Tide fans, along with the fact that UA has been his leader since he visited Tuscaloosa over the summer. Henry will play on ESPNU the same night against Florida running back commitment Kelvin Taylor.
If Henry chooses Alabama as expected on Friday, the only question is where does he play at the next level? Listed as an athlete, Henry has been told by the UA coaching staff that he will play running back when he gets on campus. The only problem is the Tide already have commitments from two other ESPN 150 running backs, Tyren Jones and Altee Tenpenny. Will their be enough carries to go around? Sources say that if Henry sticks at running back, there’s a good chance Tenpenny, an Arkansas native, might flip to the Razorbacks. Georgia continues to make a hard push for Jones, but it’s unlikely he flips. There’s also the possibility that the 6-foot-3, 243-pound Henry plays more of a hybrid role, similar to what Jalston Fowler did this year before his injury.
Crossing enemy lines
This weekend, Alabama will host a pair of ESPN 150 defensive backs who are committed to other schools. Virginia Tech safety commitment Holland Fisher is scheduled to take his official visit to UA for the Tide’s SEC home opener, and USC cornerback commitment Jalen Ramsey plans to be in town Saturday as well. Ramsey, who committed to USC in July, continues to look around at other schools. He took an official visit to Florida this past weekend and says he make take an official visit to Alabama down the road depending how this trip goes. Sources say the 6-foot, 185-pound prospect is high on the Tide’s priority list at the cornerback spot, a position of need in the Tide's class.
“I know I do want to get down there for a game to see how their game atmosphere is,” Ramsey said. “Like I said, maybe they will get one of my official visits. I’m just not sure.”
Big visitor weekend
Fisher and Ramsey might highlight the visitors this weekend, but they won’t be the only ones attending Saturday night’s game against Ole Miss. There’s no doubt it will be Alabama’s biggest recruiting weekend to date this season. There are already eight confirmed commitments coming to town, including ESPN 150 defensive end/linebacker DeMarcus Walker, who will be on his official visit to Alabama. The 2014 class will also be well-represented with top in-state prospects E.J. Moss, Bo Scarbrough and Racean Thomas among the expected visitors. Even top 2015 defensive back Rico McGraw plans to take in his first Alabama game. For a look at who will be in town for the game, see TideNation's Ole Miss weekend visitor preview.
Football won’t be the only sport hosting visitors this weekend. Anthony Grant and the Alabama basketball staff are expected to host ESPN 100 guard JaJuan Johnson from Thursday through Sunday. It will be his second trip to Tuscaloosa. Johnson, a native of Memphis, Tenn., has narrowed his list to five schools: Alabama, Louisville, Marquette, Miami and Texas. He recently visited Miami and says he’s close to making a decision. If Alabama can impress him on the visit this weekend, don’t be surprised if Johnson pulls the trigger and commits to the Tide in the coming weeks. The 6-foot-5 wing player has the ability to score in a variety of players and can shoot it from beyond the 3-point arc.