Sunday, September 4, 2011

Alabama?s ace wide receiver signee makes the grade, finally; but Oklahoma?s does not

Not to overstate the point, considering Duron Carter is still at least as well known for his famous NFL bloodline as anything he's accomplished on the field ?�his only season at the Division I level yielded 13 receptions for Ohio State in 2009, before he was rerouted to junior college ?�but there's a reason his long-awaited enrollment at Alabama today after months in academic purgatory was met with such relief. If Carter is as good as advertised, then yes, Virginia, even with the early departures of NFL-bound stars Mark Ingram and Julio Jones, the Crimson Tide can have a balanced offense.

Where their championship ambitions are concerned, of course, the more relevant fact is that the Tide still have a defense. But the addition of Carter, another former top-100 recruit on a roster full of them, makes it that much less likely that the offense ?�and the passing game in particular ?�will undermine the defense's efforts, as it very nearly did on three separate occasions en route to the BCS championship in '09.

Along with seniors Marquis Maze and Darius Hanks, Carter gives Alabama three viable options for filling the considerable void left by Jones. And even if none of them are going to come close to replacing Julio as a perennial one-on-one mismatch, a trio of legitimate field-stretching threats will make it that much harder for defenses to gang up on any one of them ?�or on the real start of the show, workhorse tailback Trent Richardson, who's assuming a full load for the first time behind an offensive line that brings back four starters.

Now that Carter is in the fold, the real asterisk hovering next to any discussion of the Crimson Tide offense is still the quarterback, whose identity remains a mystery: Six days before kicking off against Kent State, A.J. McCarron and Phillip Sims remain separated at the top of the first game-week depth chart only by an "OR." Either way, with Richardson on board and the defense keeping scores within reach, the absence of a first-rate slinger isn't necessarily going to make or break the offense. But if McCarron and/or Sims does fall short of the latest championship mandate, it's not going to be for lack of firepower at his disposal.

That's even more true for another BCA aspirant, Oklahoma, which owes its presence at the top of the preseason polls mainly to quarterback Landry Jones' rapport with the deepest receiving corps in the country. Still, Jones will have one less weapon at his disposal this fall now that five-star signee Trey Metoyer is bound for prep school as an academic casualty, robbing the Sooners of the No. 2 wide receiver and No. 12 overall player in the incoming recruiting class.

Oh, well. I suppose Jones will have to console himself with more passes to Ryan Broyles. How ever will he cope?

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Matt Hinton is on Facebook and Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.


Bronco Nagurski Cal Ripken Jr Carl Lewis Chris Evert

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