105 roster notes

The 105-early reporting roster has finally been released, and the list includes its share of changes--including a few genuine surprises. <br><br>A few names are notable for their absence, including 2003 fullback signee Le'Ron McClain, placekicker Michael McLaughlin, tailback Nic Luke and placekicker/punter Michael Ziifle.

At last report McClain was still waiting on the results of his high school exit exam (expected by mid-week). But even assuming a positive result, the latest reports indicate that McClain must then wait to be passed on by the NCAA Clearinghouse. That process almost always takes at least a week or so, which could explain the decision not to include him on the early list.

Mike McLaughlin

McLaughlin had been the only scholarshipped kicker on the squad, but the redshirt sophomore had yet to make a dent on the depth chart. His exclusion from the early-reporting list (along with the inclusion of little-used Gabe Giardina) is not a good sign for McLaughlin's Bama career.

Luke's absence was not unexpected, but there had been hope that he would change his mind and remain on the Tide squad. Of course Luke had not been on campus this summer, working out with the team. So it's possible that his exclusion isn't definitive proof that he intends to transfer to Tuskegee.

A walk-on athlete out of Newnan, Georgia, Ziifle saw extensive playing time last season as a placekicker, punter and kickoff specialist. A family member recently communicated to BamaMag.com that Michael wanted to return for the 2003 season. However, he has not been on campus for most of the summer.

Bates will work out with the team.

As expected, Eric Packer and Chris Felder did not qualify and will begin their college careers in junior college. Earlier, quarterback Cliff Davis signed to play minor-league baseball.

Interestingly, Todd Bates was included on the roster, despite the fact that he cannot compete this season due to an NCAA-mandated suspension.

Several new jersey numbers were assigned, including a few changes involving veteran players.

2003 Signees

Waldrop will wear # 44.

Number changes involving returning players included Brandon Avalos (from 11 to 7), Michael Machen (from 17 to 15), Kenneth Darby (from 33 to 34) and David Cavan (from 92 to 87).

Several new faces of note will be a part of practice Tuesday. Quarterback Chris Lombardo (6-2, 205) will transfer in from Fort Scott Community College. Lombardo originally signed with Oregon where he redshirted in 2001 before transferring to Fort Scott for his second season. Placekicker Josh Christensen (5-11, 180) will transfer in as a freshman from Naval Prep in Norcross, Georgia. Defensive end Rudy Griffin (6-1, 275) arrives from the Citadel. Former Hoover High School punter Patrick Eades (6-1, 185) will get a shot at the punting job.

Besides Eades, a few select true freshman walk-ons are part of the 105, including Tuscaloosa defensive end Justin Johnson (6-3, 225), Mobile offensive guard Will Denniston (6-3, 230) and Hoover center Joseph Bennett (6-0, 280).

Patrick Eades

NCAA regulations only allow 105 players to report for early practice. The coaches give careful attention to how many athletes at each position are brought in. Fourteen wide receivers made the list, seven running backs (three listed at fullback), five quarterbacks, 18 offensive linemen and only four tight ends.

On defense, 19 defensive linemen arrive today (including 12 ends and seven tackles). Thirteen athletes are listed at linebacker. Coach Chris Ball's secondary will include 16 total athletes, seven cornerbacks and nine safeties.

A relatively high number of kicking specialists were invited, including four placekickers (Christensen, Giardina, Kyle Robinson and Brian Bostick), four punters (Eades, Bo Freeland, Jeff Aul and Jeremy Schatz) and one deep snapper (Nick Ridings). Defensive end Jonathan Brunson and guard Justin Smiley can also work at long snapper.

Nick Ridings

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