McBride signed with Alabama in 1999 redshirted his first year on campus. Then academic problems kept him off the field last season. The Lakeland, Florida native has been tried at several positions during his Bama career, including stints at receiver and cornerback where he ended the spring. On the last depth chart following the A-Day scrimmage, McBride was listed fourth-string at left cornerback.
However, the diminutive athlete has always been thought to have good potential as a kick returner. The only problem, of course, is that names like Milons, Carter, McAddley and Ray have remained ahead of him in that role at Alabama. So in search of more playing time, McBride headed to the West Coast and a stop at City College of San Francisco at the conclusion of spring semester. But admitting that the grass isn't always greener--at least not for a Southern-bred young man on the 'Left Coast'--McBride sought and received Coach Franchione's permission to rejoin the Tide squad.
Nothing is set in stone, but it's believed McBride will continue to work at cornerback.
And to clarify the status of Mac Tyler, despite some rumors to the contrary, the mammoth defensive tackle's status with Alabama is still unchanged. After failing to meet academic requirements last season, Tyler was placed at Milford Preparatory School in Connecticut by the previous Tide staff--an action that has reportedly received some attention in the ongoing NCAA investigation.
Though with the NCAA anything's possible, there apparently will be no repercussions from Tyler's placement at Milford, but at this time he still has not been certified as eligible by the NCAA Clearinghouse. There are numerous reports that he is unlikely to receive such clearance, but until official word is received nothing is definite. If Tyler beats the odds and is certified, then theoretically he could report with the other incoming freshmen this fall. On the other hand, if as most expect he does not receive clearance then he will almost certainly begin his college career in junior college. And assuming normal academic progress, he would go through the recruiting process again in two years after graduating from junior college.
As anyone who has ever met Marvin Brown personally can attest, the junior fullback is nothing if not optimistic. Academic problems forced him to sit out all of last season, and whether or not the powerful athlete will be eligible this season was a key question coming out of spring drills. Reportedly, Brown has told several people that he did very well spring semester, which is definitely true. And those same people report that he is confident about being eligible this fall, which unfortunately is not yet definite. At least not at this point.
Brown's availability would go a long way toward resolving the question marks that surround the fullback position, where depth is a concern. At this point Donnie Lowe is first-string with Nick Signaigo backing up, but obviously Brown's outstanding athletic ability would be useful during a long, arduous season. As the Alabama students approach the end of the first summer term, the best way to describe Brown's situation is to say that while he has absolutely made progress toward his goal, he's not there yet.
It's hardly a secret that depth on the interior of the defensive line is currently a problem at Alabama. Tide fans welcomed the recent report of Brad West's decision to transfer to Alabama--and understandably so.
West is a defensive tackle, and Bama is frankly woefully thin at that position. West reportedly has said he will pay his own way the first semester at The Capstone, hoping to sign and be placed on scholarship next year. And that may very well be how things work out. But he was released from his scholarship by LSU, meaning that he could have received financial aid immediately from Alabama. And with the Tide expecting to bring in no more than 19 new players on scholarship this fall, there would have been room. Of course NCAA rules governing transfers dictate he must sit out a season before playing. But while the staff welcomes West and certainly hope he can earn a scholarship during practice this fall, he will begin his Alabama career as a walk-on.
Returning to the subject of fullbacks and their academic eligibility, junior college transfer Quentin Bowens is not yet guaranteed to be available this fall. Bowens is a native of Killen who signed with East Central (Mississippi) Community College after failing to meet NCAA eligibility requirements out of high school. At 6-0, 255, he's a powerful athlete who projects as a blocking fullback at Alabama. Bowens is the brother of former Tide receiver Tim Bowens and the half-brother of incoming linebacker Freddie Roach.
With some uncertainty surrounding the fullback position, early playing time may have been a possibility. But at this point Bowens hasn't yet graduated from junior college. He's currently enrolled at Shelton State, hoping to get a last few courses taken care of. But it's possible that he may not be eligible by the time the season starts.
His name isn't known by most Tide fans, but Robert ‘Bo' Freeland's apparent decision to transfer will affect the punting situation. The most highly regarded kickers out of high school can usually find a scholarship, but most punters/place-kickers are expected to walk on and earn a scholarship. So a high transfer rate isn't unusual as athletes cast about for the best situation for their talents--especially among freshmen.
A true freshman out of Eutaw's Warrior Academy, Freeland had shown promise during spring. But junior Lane Bearden was solidly entrenched first-string; indicating the job would be unavailable until 2002. Taken together with the decision reported earlier by Matt Sanders to give up football, Freeland's departure improves Michael Ziifle's quest to earn a role on the squad. Ziifle, who punted well at A-Day, is pushing for the kickoff job and to back up Bearden on punts.
And as a quick word of advice to fans hoping for specific articles detailing Alabama's offensive plans for next season. . .
Don't get your hopes up.
Like all successful coaches, Dennis Franchione is always looking for an edge. And if he has one advantage in taking over a new team, it's that the UCLA coaches don't really have any clear idea what he's going to do.
Which is precisely the way Franchione wants to keep it.