It's still very early for this question. Indeed, many of the best walk-ons won't even "become available" until after Signing Day, when they find out whether or not their scholarship hopes will be fulfilled.
For lower- to mid-level colleges, walk-ons are basically anyone the staff can find. Players almost certainly not good enough to compete at a major school.
But at a tradition-rich school like Alabama, known throughout the nation and backed up by hundreds of thousands of devoted fans, many of which grew up dreaming of playing for the Tide, the talent pool is considerably deeper.
In most cases the final decision has not yet been made, so don't read more into this list than it deserves. But BamaMag.com has come up with a good early list of athletes considering joining the Tide next year as walk-ons.
- OL, David Brown
- OL, Dawson Brown
- WR, Patrick Gordon
- WR, Brent Grier
- WR, Joe Jones
- CB, Tyrone King
- Ath, Johnathan Lowe
- P, Joseph McPhillips
- Ath, A.J. Milwee
- LB, Brent Nall
- OL, Philip Nola
- Ath, Darion Payne
- FB, Josh Smyth
- PK, Lane Stewart
- QB, Adam Thrash
In a story last December (Good news for next year's O-Line), BamaMag.com detailed the plans of Dawson Brown and David Brown to join the Alabama team. Dawson Brown (6-5 ½, 315) signed with UAB last year and redshirted in 2003. He asked for and received his release from the Blazers, and has already enrolled in school at The Capstone. Dawson will be able to take part in spring drills, though he must sit out 2004 as a transfer. He says he's willing to play anywhere needed on the offensive line.
The younger brother of Dawson, David Brown (6-7, 300) graduates from Sparkman High School this spring and will enroll at Alabama soon after. He'll need to work on his agility and footwork, but David is potentially a contributor down the line.
The fans that watched last summer's mini-camp at Alabama will remember Patrick Gordon (6-6, 205, 4.6) well. He was the very tall kid from Vanderbilt Catholic in Houma, Louisiana, who caught passes all day long. Frankly, most of the defensive backs simply couldn't match up with Gordon's height. Too slender for tight end and slower than most SEC coaches like at receiver, so far Gordon hasn't received a scholarship offer from a major program. Sources close to Gordon say he has made the decision to forgo scholarship offers from smaller schools and walk on at Alabama.
Brent Greer (6-3, 185, 4.6) played for Boaz High School this past year where he benefited from the passing accuracy of A.J. Milwee. Described as "tough as nails" by one scout, Greer could be a valuable addition to the team.
If any athlete in the state deserves to complain a bit about a lack of respect, it's probably Milwee (5-11, 170, 4.6). He threw for almost 2,000 yards and ran for more than 900 more. Milwee's touchdown to interception ratio was a remarkable 22-to-4. Despite his lack of height, don't be surprised if Milwee sees some work at quarterback for Alabama.
As we first detailed in a story three weeks ago (Bryant Scholarship could help), three Tide legacies could benefit from the scholarship fund first set up by Paul Bryant for the children of his former players and staffers: Joe Jones, Tyrone King and Johnathan Lowe.
Joe Jones (5-9, 170) played wide receiver for his famous father, Joey Jones, at Mountain Brook High School. Tyrone King (6-0, 185, 4.6) is probably one of the more talented players in the state still lacking a major-college scholarship. King is considering his options, and at this point he may be leaning elsewhere. But the Minor High School star has considered walking on at Alabama. The son of former Tide linebacker Eddie Lowe, Johnathan Lowe (5-6, 154, 4.5) did a little bit of everything this past year at Phenix City's Central High School.
Alabama fans will be heartened to learn that several potential kickers are considering joining the squad as walk-ons. Joseph McPhillips (5-10, 165) punted, kicked off, handled placekicks and played some wide receiver for Cullman High School. But McPhillips hopes to walk on at Bama as a punter.
Little more is known of Lane Stewart than that he is a placekicker from Tuscala High School in Waynesville, North Carolina and that he told his local paper that he was walking on at Alabama. It's virtually certain that other placekicking candidates will be considered.
Brent Nall (6-1, 240) was a mainstay all year at linebacker for Straughn High School. The tough athlete is precisely the kind of player Bama needs to fill out its squad.
Spain Park's Philip Nola (6-3, 250, 5.16) is being courted by Central Florida, but this point it's not clear what he'll do. Nola has said that one option would be to walk on at Alabama.
At many high schools the best athlete is put at quarterback, simply to make sure he touches the football as many times as possible. Darion Payne (6-3, 209) probably projects as a wideout in college, but he starred this past season at quarterback for Huffman High School. Payne was named "Mr. Football" for the city of Birmingham.
Like several of these athletes Josh Smyth (6-0, 230, 4.75) could end up accepting a scholarship to a smaller school, but walking on at Alabama is also a possibility. Certainly the Tide coaches would love to get him. Most recruiting databases list Smyth as a fullback, because that's where he probably projects in college. But the Hoover native also excelled at defensive end in a run-stopping role.
As BamaMag.com reported last weekend (Relatively small visit weekend), Adam Thrash (6-4, 208, 4.8) paid his own way to take an unofficial visit to Tuscaloosa last weekend. At this point Thrash is considering his options, one of which is to join Alabama next fall as a walk-on quarterback.
Two athletes that had been on our list as potential walk-ons appear headed elsewhere. Johnathan Isbell (6-5, 240) is close friends with Marcus Carter and Aaron McDaniel, both of whom have committed to sign with the Tide. Isbell's family are AU fans, and though he took an official visit to Alabama with Carter and McDaniel, he's expected to attend Auburn.
Kris Guyton (6-2, 202, 4.69) has been on Bama's radar screen all along. Yet another college prospect from Hillcrest High School, there was some speculation that Alabama might bring him in this weekend for an official visit. A grayshirt was a possibility, as was walking on. But recent reports have the linebacker/defensive end likely headed to UAB.
RECRUITING NOTES: Please remember that except for Dawson Brown (who is already enrolled at Alabama), none of these names are set in stone. Also, it's definite that other names will be added after National Signing Day.
Alabama is allowed to bring in 19 new scholarshipped players this fall. The Tide is expected to sign as many as 25-26 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.