'The Chief' is back in school

Providing a bit of welcome personnel news for the 2003 squad, senior defensive end Nautyn McKay-Loescher is back.

Forced to drop out of school last semester due to illness, Nautyn McKay-Loescher enrolled at The University for the Interim Summer term and is currently working out with the team.

A serious case of mononucleosis caused the original problem. Forced to sit out spring practice, McKay-Loescher tried to stay in school and continue with his course work. But the illness put him so far behind that he was forced to withdraw from his spring courses.

For a normal college student, such an event would be just a bump in the academic road. But strict NCAA regulations regarding degree progress and minimum number of hours earned per academic year presented a problem.

McKay-Loescher's availability next season could be key for the Tide defense.

Had McKay-Loescher remained enrolled and possibly failed (or been forced to drop) several courses, he would have ended up ineligible for the 2003 season. Working in conjunction with Alabama's academic advisors and the Tide coaches, he decided to withdraw from school before the spring term ended and appeal to the NCAA for an exemption.

After running with his teammates yesterday, McKay-Loescher told BamaMag.com that he had heard from the NCAA appeals committee and that his appeal had been approved. However, we have not yet confirmed that news with Alabama officials.

If true, the senior defensive end still must make satisfactory academic progress during the summer to be eligible.

Nicknamed "The Chief," McKay-Loescher played in every game last season, earning seven starts. He finished the season with 25 tackles, two stops behind the line of scrimmage for a loss of nine total yards, four and a half sacks and 21 quarterback hurries. McKay-Loescher also had one pass break-up.

If healthy and eligible, McKay-Loescher is a projected starter at defensive end, opposite Antwan Odom.

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