Skelton Celebrates Second Championship
As in, two national championship rings and all the goodies BCS players get when they go to the title games! He's earned it the hard way.
This year, Allen Skelton chose a laptop computer as a gift from the BCS title game against LSU. He received a leather recliner when the team met Texas in the 2010 Rose Bowl.
Skelton, a walk-on for the Alabama Crimson Tide who has used up all his eligibility, played football at Tuscaloosa County High School.
Skelton was invited to walk-on after his senior season at TCHS. He joined teammate John Michael Boswell, who received a full-scholarship to UA in the 2008 recruiting class.
Four years later, Skelton has shared in the glory of two of the Tide's national championship teams. He is a junior, majoring in management information systems and went to work as an intern at Buffalo Rock last Friday.
Skelton worked on the scout team at center. The 6'2", 270-pound lineman did all the work, both on the field and in the classroom that scholarship players do. He got to see action in Alabama's game against Georgia State in 2010 and the first game against Kent State this season at right guard.
Skelton played in the shadows of Boswell at County High. He and Boswell have been best friends since elementary school.
"John Michael and Coach (Lee) Gibson urged me to walk-on after my senior year in high school," Skelton said. "John Michael introduced me to Coach Joe Pendry (offensive line coach) and I was invited to walk-on. I was thrilled to get the chance."
Skelton said he had scholarship offers from schools like Stillman and Huntington College in Montgomery, but it has always been his dream to suit up in the Crimson Tide uniform. "When Coach Pendry offered me the chance to walk-on I never considered any other school after that," he said.
Skelton is in an "elite" group of walk-ons at Alabama. There are approximately 47 players who have been invited by Tide coaches to walk-on. The team can carry only 85 players on scholarship.
"Coach Pendry told me the first day I met him that it was going to be a hard," Skelton said. "I told him I could do the work."
Grants, academic scholarships and student loans help pay the cost for tuition and books to attend Alabama. Skelton decided to live at home with his mother in Coker while he attends school and works. His mother is Darlene Skelton.
During his first Fall Camp at Alabama in 2008, about 130 players were on the lists to suit up. Only 105 are invited to camp. Skelton's name wasn't on the list.
"I was a little upset I wasn't chosen," he said. "But two days later one of the players got hurt and Coach Pendry called and told me I had made it to Fall Camp."
While many of the Tide offensive linemen weigh in the neighborhood of 300 pounds, Skelton knew he had to gain weight. He grew from 6'1", 256-pounds to his current height and weight.
Being on the scout team the past four years, Skelton has had the unheralded task of blocking Terrence (Mount) Cody, Josh Chapman and Nick Gentry, all who played nose guard.
Skelton, along with the other walk-ons, got to dress out for non-conference games.
The walk-ons also got to travel to the BCS title games against Texas and LSU.
"We are all part of the team," said Skelton. "If it wasn't for the scout team, the first team defense wouldn't be able to get ready for the next opponent. I feel like I am as much a part of the team as anyone else."
And, that doesn't get lost on Coach Saban, who recognized all the players for their contributions whether they were starters or sitting on the bench at one of his press conferences this year.
Skelton celebrated the national championship like the other players and came home from New Orleans on cloud nine.
He'll be visiting the White House in days to come. It'll be his third visit to Washington, D.C. He was with the team when they visited President Barack Obama after the 2009 BCS title against Texas. He also visited the White House when he was in the fifth grade at Westwood Elementary.
On Christmas Day, Allen popped the engagement proposal to Tamlyn Simpson, his long-time sweetheart.
"We started dating when I was a sophomore at County High and he was a senior," Tamlyn said.
Allen said he and Tamlyn will be married in May 2013 after he graduates from UA. Tamlyn graduated from TCHS in 2010 and also graduated from Shelton State's nursing school. She now works at Alabama Dermatology Associates and lives in Northport.
John Wayne Cargile, a former sportswriter gone good, is now a freelance writer and novelist living in Coker in Tuscaloosa County. He is an occasional contributor to BamaMag.com
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