Athlete doing double duty for Bama

Oh, to be young and talented... <br><br>Baseball's gain was football's loss this weekend, as Brandon Avalos received special permission to take part in the crucial conference baseball series against the Florida Gators.

"The baseball team had an outfielder get injured, so Brandon went down," Tide Head Football Coach Mike Price explained. "Coach (Mal) Moore asked permission."

Football players Avalos, Spencer Pennington and Shaud Williams have all been playing baseball this spring in their "spare time." Williams is a reserve infielder/outfielder who is also utilized as a pinch runner. Pennington is a sometime starter at first base. Avalos' playing time in the outfield has increased in recent games.

Avalos and Williams have both seen action in the outfield this season.

So far this season Avalos has played in 12 of Bama's 21 games, starting three. In 23 at bats, Avalos is hitting .304 with three doubles and four RBI. He has two walks, has been hit by a pitch one time and is 1-for-1 on stolen bases.

Very fast for his size, the redshirt freshman is an excellent defensive outfielder--and if this year's baseball squad has an obvious weakness it's on defense. After 21 games Avalos is perfect in the field.

Avalos played 2/3s of an inning as a late defensive replacement in Bama's 8-3 win Friday.

All three athletes are on football scholarship, and part of their understanding with Coach Price is that they not miss any football work. However, Athletics Director Mal Moore passed along the request from head baseball coach Jim Wells, and Price agreed.

Avalos got word late this week that he would be playing baseball instead of football after Wells and his squad had left for Gainesville. The University flew Avalos down to Florida on a commercial flight.

"It's good for the baseball team, no question about that," Price said.

All three football players have had to work hard to meet the demands of both sports, but the task is especially difficult for Avalos and Pennington. As quarterbacks learning a completely new offense, this spring is very important.

Finding a reliable back-up to play behind starting QB Brodie Croyle is a key goal for spring practice. Price has stated his preference that his two quarterbacks play football only this spring.

Pennington played baseball last year as well.

Avalos enjoys both sports equally. "During football season I'm a football player that also plays baseball, but during baseball season I'm a baseball player that plays football," was how he put it.

The Tuscaloosa native was also recruited to play baseball by Wells out of high school. NCAA rules dictate that athletes on football scholarships can play baseball with no effect. However, if a scholarshipped baseball athlete plays football, at that point he must count against the football scholarship numbers. Avalos signed a football scholarship with Alabama in 2002.

While obviously Coach Wells is convinced the baseball team needs Avalos for this weekend's series at Florida--and probably for the rest of the year, it's also obvious that the young man cannot be in two places at once. While helping the Tide to a series-opening win over Florida, Avalos missed Friday's football practice and will also not be able to participate in tomorrow's scrimmage.

Price expressed concern that his young quarterback not be caught in a tug-of-war between head coaches. "I don't want to put Brandon in a position where he comes out on the short end," Price said. "I don't want him to feel pressured from either side.

"We want to do what's best for him."

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