A big year in Bama

The 2006 Alabama preseason Top 40
The state of Alabama is always a well-respected producer of football talent, but for the class of 2006 the state may be in the midst of its finest year ever. As always with a pre-season list, players will continue to be scouted and prospects are suspect to move up and down the list, but here is the first look at the top 40 prospects in the state of Alabama.
There is very little suspense about who would be sitting atop the list as Birmingham (Ala.) Huffman offensive lineman Andre Smith is not only the top prospect in Alabama, but is ranked as the nations No. 2 player overall. Homewood wide receiver Tim Hawthorne checks in as the No. 2 player in the state and the nation's No. 47 player overall. Strong armed quarterback Neil Caudle is ranked as the stat's No. 3 prospect and the No. 87 prospect nationally. Though he's from a tiny town, Terrell Zachery is a big time talent and is ranked as the state's No. 4 player and the No. 98 prospect nationally.

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Phenix City (Ala.) Central athlete Earl Alexander, who rounds out the top five, has bolted up the charts after a stellar Athens NIKE camp and made a serious run at a Rivals 100 bid. Enterprise defensive end Raven Gray comes in as the No. 6 prospect, but is considered to be a long shot to qualify. Montgomery (Ala.) Trinity Presbyterian defensive lineman Bart Eddins is ranked as the states No. 7 prospect and will likely follow in his brothers footsteps and join coach Tommy Tuberville at Auburn.
While the state is deep in skill position players the top ten contains three offensive lineman. Irondale (Ala.) Shades Valley offensive tackle Taylor Pharr earns the No. 8 spot in the state, while Homewood center David Ross checks in at No. 9. Tuscaloosa (Ala.) American Christian quarterback Chris Smelley rounds out the top ten. Surprisingly enough Smelley has yet to earn an offer from the Tide even though he is literally in their backyard.
Mobile (Ala.) Williamson wide receiver Jared White is a guy who could make a big move, either up or down depending on his senior season, but for now holds down the No. 11 spot. Michael Goggans is the most highly rated prospect on a very talented Alexander City (Ala.) Benjamin Russell squad at No. 12. Teammates Demetrius Culpepper and Labronski Hutchins come in at No. 16 and No. 21 respectively.
Leighton (Ala.) Colbert County always seems to have a prospect or two and this year is no exception as offensive tackle Jermarcus Ricks comes in as the state's No. 13 player. Mobile (Ala.) UMS-Wright tight end Preston Dial has had good showings at camps over the summer and earns the No. 14 spot. Irondale (Ala.) Shades Valley running back Eugene Sowell ranks as the No. 15 player in the state and is one of two Shades Valley players included among the state's 15 best players.
The Alabama Crimson Tide have locked up commitments from three of the state's top 26 players. Birmingham (Ala.) Briarwood Christian safety Andy Davis is the Tide's top commitment at No. 18 in the state. Mountain Brook linebacker Charlie Higginbotham closes out the top 25 with the No. 25 spot. Autaugaville center Brian Motley raised his stock at the Athens NIKE camp and nabbed the No. 26 spot.
Editor's note: Rivals.com Southeast analyst Jeremy Patterson and Rivals.com analysts Tim Watts and Bryan Matthews compiled the Alabama rankings.