Recruiting pendulum swings in Tide’s favor, but for how long?

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The same college recruiters who beat a path to Gadsden City High the past year will be doubling their efforts over the next 12 months.

This year, Gadsden City had one blue-chipper: linebacker Jerrell Harris, No.3 on The Birmingham News Super Seniors list and No.34 on Rivals.com’s national list.

Next year, the Titans will have two players of impact in defensive back Dre Kirkpatrick (Rivals’ No.6 national prospect for 2009) and wide receiver Kendall Kelly.

“Dre and Kendall, I imagine, will get all the attention Jerrell got, if not more,” said Gadsden City coach Joe Billingsley. “I understand that, it’s a business now.”

Alabama ended up with Harris. In fact, Alabama ended up with just about every player it wanted in the state, signing 14 of the top 18 Super Seniors.

That’s domination the likes of which no one has seen since 2007, when Auburn signed six of the state’s top 10 prospects.

Before you think 2008 guarantees Crimson Tide domination in the near future, consider Billingsley’s take on the recruiting battle royale of 2008.

“You can’t tell how it will go from year to year,” he said. “This year, Auburn’s got a lot of people coming back. Alabama has a lot of holes, so it could offer a chance to play immediately. That’s huge.

“These kids don’t miss a thing now. They’re more mature physically, they understand the process and they want to play right away.”

Both Alabama and Auburn have to be concerned about the recruiting year ahead. Because winning the state isn’t as simple as dominating your archrival.

Consider that Florida took two of this year’s top five Super Seniors (Dee Finley and William Green) and Clemson took No.8 prospect Antoine McClain.

Consider USC was in the race for Jerrell Harris until the end.

And consider Texas, which stayed out of the competition for Jerrell Harris by choice. Deem it a gentleman’s agreement. Texas’ new offensive coordinator, Major Applewhite, was Harris’ main contact before Applewhite left Alabama midway through the process.

Mack Brown, according to Billingsley, also called his new defensive coordinator – some guy named Will Muschamp, we’re told – off Harris, as well. Muschamp, of course, had forged a relationship with the Gadsden linebacker before bolting Auburn.

A year from now, with Gadsden City’s duo of Kirkpatrick and Kelly making everybody’s prep All-American list, all is fair in love and recruiting.

In fact, “Texas is already hot on their trails,” Billingsley confirmed.

With the nation’s No.1 recruiting class matriculating in Tuscaloosa, Alabama won’t be able to sell the opportunity to play immediately so easily.

As for Auburn, a new approach may be in the works.

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see Auburn do new things in recruiting next year because Tommy Tuberville won’t go down without a fight,” said Scout.com Southeastern analyst Miller Safrit.

Auburn’s quandary is that it’s being squeezed on all sides.

In the state of Florida, the rise of the likes of Florida Atlantic, South Florida and Central Florida have diminished the availability of Sunshine State recruits. Another annual Auburn hotbed, the state of Georgia, is now more crowded than the Atlanta airport.

“More and more schools are going into the state of Georgia for players,” said Barton Simmons, Rival’s regional director. “Clemson is doing well. South Carolina, too. And (the University of) Georgia gets what it wants.”

Odds are whoever wins the in-state battle next season won’t finish atop the national rankings.

“This year, talent in Alabama is as good as I can ever remember. It was unheard of,” Safrit said. “Next year, you’ve got some great players, but, at this point, not as many.”

Rivals ranks five players from the state in its preseason Top 100 for 2009 while Scout lists four, so far. One of those, Foley defensive tackle D.J. Fluker, has already committed to Alabama.

The exception to the state cooling theory, of course, is Mobile.

“It’s a place where you can go find two players at one school and drive five minutes and find another two players who can play at the top level,” Safrit said.

A year ago, Auburn owned Mobile. This year, Alabama dominated the metro area.

The pendulum has swung. But for how long?

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