Walk-ons get an early start

Though they can't officially join the team and benefit from coaching staff instruction until the fall, several of Alabama's true freshmen walk-ons are already on campus and working out on their own.

Due to several factors (most notably Title IX), the Tide coaches have made the decision to cut down somewhat on the walk-on program. The total squad will be smaller this year, probably limited to around 125 total athletes. NCAA sanctions limit Bama's total scholarshipped players to no more than 80, which leaves room for 45 walk-ons.

Barrett Earnest is a legitimate 6-2 with the frame to easily grow into a college tight end.

One result of that decision is the Tide will accept significantly fewer walk-ons this year than in the past. But what the group lacks in size, it hopefully will make up for in talent.

Untimely injuries can impact a prep player's chances at a scholarship, which was the case with Barrett Earnest. A knee injury suffered in the fifth game of his senior season effectively ended his chances for a Division 1 scholarship, but the big receiver still wanted to play major-college football.

Earnest's hometown of Loretto, Tennessee is a small town located just across the Alabama/Tennessee border on US 43, Northwest of Decatur, Alabama. Both his mother and father graduated from Alabama, which explains his ties to the Capstone. Earnest was a wide receiver in high school, but his size (6-4, 225) makes him a candidate for tight end in college.

Coach Ben Pollard will love this guy, as Matt Collins is clearly no stranger to the weight room.

Earnest wears a knee brace for workouts, but he says his knee is completely healed.

He's not the prototype size for an Alabama defender, but Matt Collins is an impressive-looking athlete who clearly has already spent long hours in the weight room. At Clay-Chalkville he did a little of everything, playing effectively at linebacker, defensive end and even on the offensive line.

He's expected to work on defense in college.

Collins is already enrolled at Alabama and working out on his own. As his photo clearly shows, the Tide will gain an extremely hard-working athlete.

With the competition at punter wide open, Patrick Eades will be one walk-on closely watched by the Tide coaches. Eades punted for Hoover High School and averaged 46.5 yards per punt during the regular season. Moving the short distance to Tuscaloosa, Eades is enrolled for the second summer term and working out on his own.

Another candidate for defensive end, Will Denniston will also pay his own tuition and join the Tide squad as a walk-on. Denniston enrolled at Alabama for the second summer term. The UMS-Wright product had offers from lower-division schools, but his dream was to play for Alabama.

Sporting his T-shirt from the recent Alabama/Mississippi All-Star game, he, Collins, Eades and Earnest are running and lifting weights together in preparation for the fall.

Andrew Bone, a 5-11, 175 pound receiver from Rainbow City will also join the squad in the fall. He and Brodie Croyle were teammates before Croyle moved on to Alabama.

Working out on his own, Will Denniston is spotted by Dominic Lee.

BamaMag.com has also learned that Kenneth Vandervoort will walk-on this fall. In fact the former Donoho tight end has already enrolled at Alabama. He played some linebacker in high school and is expected to begin on defense for the Tide.

Central High School's Justin Johnson still hopes to walk-on this fall and play defensive end, but he is working on some academic issues at this point.

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