Tide roster glows of Sunshine St.


Alabama's DJ Hall outruns Arkansas' Vickiel Vaughn for a touchdown in the second quarter at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday. The No. 15 Crimson Tide won, 24-13, and host No. 5 Florida at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

MICHAEL E. PALMER/The Tuscaloosa (Ala.) News
Published: Thursday, September 29, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, September 29, 2005 at 12:00 a.m.
TUSCALOOSA - Due to Alabama's increasing emphasis on recruiting in the Sunshine State, the ripples from Saturday's game against Florida could potentially be felt for years.
With Alabama dividing the state among four different assistant coaches, and in particular making inroads in the Panhandle, only the home state appears to be a higher priority.
"It's high," coach Mike Shula said. "Alabama is still first because there are a lot of good football players here and the ones that we get are going to be well coached. That helps, especially now when a lot of young guys are playing.
"It's funny. I always thought growing up, you see a lot of size in northern Florida and there's a lot of speed in south Florida. Now there's a little bit of everything everywhere."
There are currently nine players on the Alabama roster with Florida tries (not including former Miami quarterback Marc Guillon), all of whom were recruited under Shula.
The recruiting Class of 2005 demonstrated Alabama's increasing focus on the state when it signed running backs Glen Coffee (Fort Walton Beach), Mike Ford (Sarasota) and Roy Upchurch (Tallahassee Godby), offensive lineman Cole Harvey (Tallahassee Lincoln) and Mike Johnson (Pensacola Pine Forest), and defensive back Chris Rogers (Lakeland Evangel Christian).
Harvey, who gray-shirted, is planning to join the team after this semester along with Ford, who is playing at Hargarve Military Academy in Chatham, Va.
For 2006, Alabama is again courting a number of the state's top prospects and already has a verbal commitment from linebacker Charlie Kirschman (6-foot-5, 225 pounds ) of Nease High School in Ponte Verde.
Last year, more than half of Rival.com's top 100 players in Florida signed with out-of-state programs.
"Coming from South Florida, and we're trying to get in down there and do a better job than we've done, I think we've made a little better headway, but we're not where we would like to be," Shula said. "In other areas, in the middle of the state in the Tampa area, and then obviously the Panhandle, we've had a little more success.
"For sure you want to get more involved. All the states, besides Alabama, that are touching Alabama, are the ones we want to hit hard."
Unless they meet in the SEC Championship, Alabama and Florida won't play again after next year's rematch at "The Swamp" until 2010.
"It's always good to play the home state, especially when you know a couple of guys on the team," said sophomore wide receiver DJ Hall, who hails from Fort Walton Beach. "Alabama's already doing a good job of recruiting in Florida. If we win this game, I think it will be really big for Alabama because growing up in Florida you want to go to Florida. If you beat Florida, it changes your mind a little bit."
  • THE MAGIC OF HALFTIME: Though overall Alabama is outscoring opponents in each quarter, it has dominated the third quarter, 33-0.
    The difference is most prevalent in junior Kenneth Darby's statistics. Of his 412 rushing yards, 129 came in the first half (16.1 per quarter), while 226 were in the third quarter (56.5).
    "It's time to let your attitude set forth and go out there and do your job," junior right tackle Kyle Tatum said. "We've preached that, we've been a second-half team, a third-quarter team. That was one of our weaknesses last year. We lost in the third quarter in the majority of our games last year."
    The Tide was outscored 62-48 in the third quarter last season.
  • TIDE-BITS: Most of the questions Shula has been getting from Florida media this week have been about his relationships with his father, Don. The former Miami Dolphins coach is expected to attend Saturday's game. ... Though sophomore defensive end Wallace Gilberry said that he believed Alabama was the best team in the SEC, most of the Tide players didn't have much of a reaction to Gators defensive end Jeremy Mincey stating that the game could be a blowout. "We do out talking on the field," senior safety Charlie Peprah said. "Regardless of what they say down there, they have to come to Bryant-Denny Stadium." ... Because Alabama receivers had some trouble with jams at the line by Arkansas cornerbacks, QB Brodie Croyle expects to see a lot of it Saturday. "I'm sure they're going play even more aggressive than what they already do," Croyle said. "It's going to be a big challenge for them."
    ... Alabama defenders aren't listening to the hype about Florida's spread-option offense, led by junior quarterback Chris Leak. "He's a good college player, but I don't think he's any different from Brodie Croyle," junior linebacker Juwan Simpson said. "If you let him sit back there, like any college starting quarterback, he should pick you apart. I don't see anything that makes him Superman or anything."
  • INJURY REPORT: Junior linebacker Terrence Jones (ankle) and senior guard Mark Sanders (knee and ankle) might return this week after missing three games.
    Junior tight end Trent Davidson (foot) will not play against Florida and will be re-evaluated after the bye next week.
  • PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: Senior linebacker DeMeco Ryans was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week, and senior punter Jeremy Schatz the SEC Special Teams Player of the Week.
    Ryans had 15 tackles, including two for a loss, with a sack, fumble recovery, pressure and broke up a pass.
    "It speaks well of our team," Ryans said. "We just play team ball. I want to thank my teammates because I can't be out there by myself running around making plays."
    Schatz had two punts inside the 20 and his 72-yard punt was the 10th longest in Tide history.
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