With that in mind, the recent announcement that Dawson and David Brown both plan to join the Crimson Tide as walk-ons is very good news.
Brothers separated by one year in age, Dawson and David are both mammoth athletes, easily passing the "eye test" for college linemen. Dawson is 6-5 ½, and weighs 315 pounds. David's numbers are 6-7, 300.
Both linemen played for Sparkman High School in North Alabama. Dawson signed with UAB last year and spent the 2003 season as a redshirt. David was a senior at Sparkman.
Dawson has asked for and received his release from UAB and plans to enroll immediately at The Capstone. His decision means Dawson will be able to take part in spring practice this semester, but he will not be eligible until the fall of 2005, at which point he'll have three years to play three seasons of college football. David will enter The University next fall and will have the normal five years to play four.
"I want to major in Business, and Alabama is a good school," Dawson Brown said. "I'm glad to have a chance to play with my brother. This will help keep the family together."
Dawson said he would be comfortable with any position on the offensive line. "I've played both guard and tackle," he said. "I'll play center if needed."
Like most extremely large teenagers, David is only now "growing into" his size. He worked hard to improve his footwork this past season, and was hearing from several mid-level schools. But the lure of Alabama and the chance to play with his brother clinched his decision.
"I really like Tuscaloosa," David Brown said. "I think I'll fit in well. The players all seem to get along."
Along with their father, Kenny, the Brown brothers drove to Tuscaloosa late last week to meet with Randy Ross, Alabama's on-campus recruiting coordinator and Offensive Coordinator Dave Rader.
"We talked a lot about how they really needed offensive linemen," David Brown related. "Coach Rader said they were about seven or eight men short of where they would normally like to be."
As Tide fans realize, last season was a tough year for Bama offensive linemen. Injuries cut deep into what began as a thin depth chart, often leaving Alabama with only one or two able-bodied and capable line substitutes.
"We felt like this was an ideal situation," Kenny Brown said in explaining the family's decisions to send both sons to Alabama. "We know they'll get a long look from the Tide coaches. That's all we're asking, that they get an opportunity. That's what we wanted."
And of course as both brothers noted, it didn't hurt that the Brown family members have all been big Tide fans for as long as they can remember.
Dawson and David won't be the first pair of brothers to play for Alabama. In fact, Wesley, Taylor and Justin Britt will all be on the Tide squad this fall, which would make them the first family with three brothers on the squad at the same time.
But according to the Brown patriarch, the Britts may have reason to start looking over their shoulders.
The third Brown brother, Daniel, is a sophomore tight end at Sparkman. And the Brown male line doesn't end there. Though only in the sixth grade, Dalton Brown may be the meanest of the lot. Potentially, four different Browns could end up at The Capstone.
"Mr. Britt had better get busy," Kenny Brown said with a laugh.
RECRUITING NOTES: Keeping track of potential walk-ons is difficult for recruiting writers and frankly confusing for fans. Terms like "invited walk-on" are commonly thrown around, but frankly have no real meaning under today's NCAA guidelines. The real key is whether or not a walk-on would be judged as "recruited" or "non-recruited" by the NCAA.
Like most NCAA rules it's complicated, but basically if a walk-on is judged to have been "recruited" by a given school, then if he plays within the first two years he would count against both the school's total scholarships and its initial counters for the first year the walk-on entered school. For that reason, schools (including Alabama) are generally very careful about how they deal with walk-ons. And virtually every walk-on athlete falls in the "non-recruited" category.
The Browns drove themselves to Tuscaloosa to meet with the Tide coaches. And they had called the Bama coaches to arrange the meeting. So since Dawson was not recruited by Alabama out of high school, both he and brother David would be considered "non-recruited walk-ons" at Alabama.
Alabama is allowed to bring in 19 new scholarshipped players this fall. The Tide is expected to sign as many as 22 players in February, anticipating that several will not become qualified. It's also possible that one or more players may be asked to delay entry into The University until the following January, counting against 2005 scholarship numbers, depending on how qualifying issues play out.
Read all of the recent recruiting stories on Alabama recruits from TheInsiders.com.