Playing a little catch-up here after a busy weekend....
After a month's worth of rumors, Duron Carter ended all the speculation by committing to the Crimson Tide on Saturday. The son of NFL great Chris Carter originally signed with Ohio State, where he played as a freshman in their 2009 Rose Bowl season. However, he apparently treated his classwork like a one-and-done basketball player and ended up suspended for the bowl game before parting ways with the Buckeyes later that spring.
His original intent was to get his grades in order in junior college and then return to Columbus for the 2011 season. But for whatever reason, that didn't work out and Carter found himself in the market for a new team. Throughout his son's re-recruitment, the elder Carter repeatedly stated that his top priority was landing his son with a coach with a proven track record of discipline and academic responsibility. Obviously, Alabama's Nick Saban fits that bill.
And so the Carters landed in Tuscaloosa on Saturday.
At 6'4" and 215lbs, Carter is as close to a physical match for the departed Julio Jones as the Tide has on the roster now, and I'm sure that fact was not lost on the Carters or the Alabama coaching staff. Bama has a need to fill that role of a big, physical #1 receiver, and Carter has an opportunity to get on the field immediately by filling it. A review of his film shows a receiver who's not afraid of contact, runs good routes, has impressive body control in the air and good hands. In short, from an on-field perspective, it's a very exciting commitment for the Tide that could yield instant results on opening day.
But it also yields something of a conundrum as it pertains to Bama's roster numbers.
As has been well documented by now, Alabama was already way over signed for this recruiting class (something in the neighborhood of 10 players over their available roster space, based on the information available). Carter's commitment further compounds the problem. But what's really odd about this is the roster situation specific to the wide receiver position. Alabama currently lists 9 scholarship receivers on the spring roster, not counting guys like Blake Sims and Kendall Kelly who've done time at that spot before and could do so again (though Kelly isn't expected to ever play again, anywhere). On top of that, the Tide will welcome an additional 3 true freshmen receivers to campus this summer. With the addition of Carter to the mix, that will put Bama at 13-14 scholarship receivers in fall camp. That would be a lot of receivers for Texas Tech, let alone a team like Alabama that predominantly plays with 2 tight ends and rarely puts more than 3 receivers on the field at a time. Unless Saban and offensive coordinator Jim McElwain are planning a drastic change in the offensive scheme for 2011, this roster isn't only oversigned, it's out of balance.
So what message are we supposed to take away from this acquisition?
Is the coaching staff not pleased with what it's seen from the receivers thus far this spring, as far as producing a new #1 to replace Julio? As I've said here before, Saban doesn't go out of his way to bring in JUCO transfers unless he expects them to play immediately. So that could be the case. Or perhaps there's some concern that one or more of the incoming freshmen receivers might not qualify? I do recall there being some concern over Danny Woodson's grades last summer, but I've heard nothing new on that. Maybe there are some bad eggs in the current receiving corps that the coaches are looking to "process" out soon? I know Michael Bowman has spent his fair share of time in the doghouse and is likely on his last strike. And I'm sure Kenny Bell didn't win any favor with the coaches with some of his comments through social media this past season (though his performance this spring would seem to make him far less expendable - more on that later).
I don't have any definite answers on this right now, but I intend to stay on top of the situation. All I know is the numbers at receiver can't end up the way they're projecting out right now. If I can get a handle on it, I'll have everything you need to know right here on CFBZ. And I still intend to do a more thorough exploration of the Tide's roster numbers once spring ball is over. Until then, I'm just trying to enjoy having ACTUAL football going on again until we go dark for another 4 months.
With that in mind, I'll be back to review Alabama's first spring scrimmage later in the week.