Tide Gets Started On Fall Practice

Much of the conversation leading up to Alabama fall camp centered on numbers, particularly after it was learned earlier this week that offensive lineman Bradley Bozeman had been told to get to Tuscaloosa in time for practice. Presumably, Bozeman was on the field when half the Bama squad – including all newcomers – went out Friday night.



Following the Friday morning practice, made up of returning players, Alabama Coach Nick Saban had an explanation for the numbers. A team can bring only 25 new signees to fall camp. Also, a team can have only 85 on scholarship. The addition of Bradley Bozeman seemed to make Bama one over in both categories.

Anyone with an understanding of Saban should know that he had done his arithmetic.

Following the morning practice, Saban provided the explanation.

An Alabama signee failed to pass his physical examination and will not participate in football. Darius Paige, a 6-4, 314-pound defensive lineman from Foley, was a four-star prospect rated as the nation's 23rd best defensive tackle recruit.

Saban said, "Darius Paige has medical issues that has caused our medical staff to think that it's not safe for him to try to play, so he has been medically disqualified. He is here and we are helping to support him. He will be on scholarship and he will get an education. Our medical staff is working with him right now to try to help improve his condition."

Saban noted that he is not allowed to comment on a player's medical condition beyond what he said.

Thus, the addition of Bozeman, a 6-5, 315-pound offensive lineman from Roanoke. Bozeman originally planned to delay his entry (and official signee status) until January – the so-called grayshirt plan. Bozeman had a three-star rating and was ranked as the 28th best guard prospect in the nation.

Saban said, "Our numbers were where we needed to be relative to initials and 85, and when Darius didn't pass the physical and got medically disqualified, that gave us an extra spot."

Reporters didn't get to see Bozeman or any of the other newcomers as Alabama had its usual split first day practice.

There had been some off-season concern that wide receiver Robert Foster of Monaca, Pa., might not make it in for fall camp. Foster, a five-star prospect rated the number four wide receiver in the nation, "is here, Saban said. He's ready to go as far as I know. He's supposed to practice tonight. If he doesn't, it will be a surprise to me."

Alabama has not issued a roster of 105 and one staff member said the reason is that on the first day there were only 104 in camp. Saban had what may have been an explanation for that, too.

He said that sophomore tight end Malcom Faciane (6-5, 267) is suspended for behavior reasons, violation of team rules and policies. He can return if he does the things he's supposed to do at some point in the future.

Although Saban did not attribute Faciane's absence to an experimentation at tight end, he said that for the first five days 6-7, 270-pound sophomore LaMichael Fanning would work at tight end. Saban emphasized that it is an experiment to see "if he can do anything to help the team."

In good news, Saban said that two top players returning from injury – tailback/H-back Jalston Fowler and wide receiver DeAndrew White – are good to go.

"They've had great summers," he said. "They passed the conditioning test. Jalston's in great shape. He's got the lowest amount of body fat that he's ever had. DeAndrew White has done extremely well. Both of those guys seem to be really recovered and doing a good job." Saban added, "Incidentally, this is the most guys that we ever had pass the conditioning test coming off the summer conditioning program or the least amount of failures, whichever way you want to look at it, that we've ever had. That's a good thing."

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