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December 8, 2004When it comes to testing in a combine environment, the 20-yard shuttle finds itself listed below the 40-yard dash on an event's marquee. However, on Monday afternoon the shuttle, which tests a player's ability to move laterally, was home to one of the day's top performances at Hargrave Military Academy's annual combine.
With more than 200 college coaches -- including Alabama assistant coach Paul Randolph -- in attendance, Crimson Tide commitment Lorenzo Washington, a 6-foot-6, 245 pound defensive lineman, clocked the day's top shuttle time, finishing in 4.04 seconds. To put Washington's time into proper perspective, consider that Washington's Terry "Tank" Johnson was tops among defensive tackles in the shuttle at the 2003 NFL combine after posting a time of 4.74.
Skeptics of events like the one held at Hargrave will point to surface and timing discrepancies as contributing factors for the high number of low times. Still, no matter how you slice it, Washington's time was the fastest among the players who took part in the event.
And when it was over, the former Grayson (Ga.) High School standout was left wanting more.
"I was actually mad about my time," Washington said Tuesday night. "I never run slower than a 4.0. When I weighed 275, I ran a 3.95 at Grayson. That time is still on the wall there."
In addition to Randolph, a small contingent of Alabama fans was on hand to cheer on Washington and fellow UA commitment Brandon Fanney.
"We talked for a good bit with Coach Randolph," Washington said. "There was actually three Bama fans in the crowd who came from North Carolina just to check us out. You gotta love that."
With the combine behind him, Washington is counting down the days to Christmas break, which will be followed by an official visit to Alabama.
"Me and Brandon are coming down for our official visits on January 14," said Washington, who continues to excel in the classroom. "We are definitely looking forward to that."
DAVIS REMAINS FIRM WITH TIDE: Is he going to take visits?
That's a question that has been frequently posed to Columbus (Ga.) offensive lineman Marlon Davis, 6-foot-3, 306 pounds, who committed to the Tide on September 12.
"Alabama doesn't want me to take any visits, so I'm not going to," said Davis, who will officially visit UA on Jan. 7. "I'm firm with Alabama."
Davis was able to catch the Tide's final two home games of the 2004 season.
"I came up for the Auburn and Mississippi State games," he said. "The Auburn game was really exciting. The atmosphere was real loud and it was a good game. I talked to Coach (Mike) Shula, Coach (Bob) Connelly and Coach Randolph, and I also talked to a few of the players like Wesley Britt and Evan Mathis. They just told me to continue to work hard and that I was coming to great place.
"The Auburn game really just closed the deal. The coaches were all really nice and the players welcomed me. It felt like someplace where I could stay for four or five years."
Davis, who projects as an offensive guard at Alabama, is currently preparing for the track and field season. He's expecting an in-home visit from Shula in the next few weeks.
HOKE MOVES ON TO HOOPS: As soon as his senior football season at Birmingham's Briarwood Christian School came to a close, UA tight end commitment Charles Hoke, 6-foot-7, 235 pounds, jumped straight into basketball.
"We're playing pretty good right now," Hoke said. "I'm mainly playing the five (center), but our offense is kind of personnel based so it changes sometimes."
Hoke's busy basketball schedule has made it difficult to pin down a weekend for an official visit to Alabama. At this time it appears as if the weekend of Jan. 14 will present the best chance for Hoke to trip to Tuscaloosa.
Even with the Tide's struggles down the stretch, Hoke saw plenty in his future team to be excited about.
"I was really impressed with the way the guys came together despite the injuries, especially on offense," he said. "I was impressed with how hard they played and I want to be a part of that."
Several of those injuries took place at Hoke's position and the prolific pass catcher has been told to show up ready to play.
"(Alabama tight ends coach) Coach (Dave) Ungerer has made it clear to me that he wants me to come in and help them," Hoke said. "I've got to prove myself first, but I m going to bust my tail in the off season."
Like most incoming freshmen, Hoke's biggest roadblock might be bulk -- or a lack of it.
"I'm working out, but right now I'm really just trying to maintain what I have during basketball season. Once the season is over I'll definitely be focusing on trying to gain weight and getting stronger."
LOTS OF COMMITMENTS IN TOWN: While a handful of uncommitted prospects are expected to be on hand for Alabama's biggest official visit weekend to date, several Tide commitments (and a few grayshirts) will be in Tuscaloosa this weekend as well. Among them will be Baron Huber, a 6-foot-4, 240-pound linebacker from Knoxville (Tn.)-Powell.
"I can't wait to get there," said Huber, who like Hoke is also playing basketball. "I think most of the guys coming in are pretty solid (commitments), but I'll definitely be talking to guys like (Montgomery-Trinity tight end) Tommy Trott who aren't."
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