Missing in Action
Sticking it out as a walk-on in college football is a tough assignment at any time, but especially so now at Alabama. The Tide coaches are clamping down, demanding excellence from their athletes both on and off the field. And frankly staying in peak condition for football (as Mike Shula defines "peak condition") is virtually a full-time job in and of itself.
BamaMag.com has learned that three athletes listed on the 2004 pre-spring roster have left the squad, unfortunately including two offensive linemen. And as every Tide fan knows, Bama's O-Line was already too thin to begin with.
One of the linemen leaving the squad, junior center Montre Walker (6-2, 259) of Hayneville, has been on and off the roster a couple of times. Also missing is senior offensive lineman Gerritt Gordon (6-2, 277) of Mobile, who had transferred to Bama from Bethel College. Neither was considered likely to start, but given how painfully thin the Tide's depth chart is their loss will be felt.
Also, freshman middle linebacker Chris Jackson (6-1, 230) of Madison has left the squad.
Tough break, but good news
Walk-on punter Patrick Eades (6-2, 176) was involved in a serious automobile accident just before spring practice began. Eades, who punted for Hoover High School in 2002, lost control of his vehicle and actually crashed into Bryant-Denny Stadium. Details aren't known, but Eades' injuries did involve a fractured pelvis, potentially a serious problem for a punter.
The good news is that he is recovering well and is expected to visit a Tide practice soon. However, obviously Eades will not take part in any spring work. Sources close to the team say that there is no reason to think he won't be able to resume his football career once he recovers.
Before the wreck, Eades had been considered a prime candidate to win the back-up role behind starting punter Bo Freelend (6-4, 257).
Preliminary kicking game work has already begun. Saturday and Tuesday Special Teams Coordinator Dave Ungerer put the players through their paces covering punts. Both gunners and blockers worked on techniques to get down field as quickly as possible to limit returns.
Aside from catching the kicks, the punt return men were not "live," but the names involved are interesting. Not surprisingly Brandon Brooks (5-4, 163) and Tyrone Prothro (5-8, 173) were first and second in line, but Matt Caddell (6-0, 171) and Charlie Peprah (5-10, 189) were also back shagging punts.
New faces, new names
Alabama has a number of players on the spring roster who have not previously been listed. BamaMag.com readers especially are already familiar with two, wide receiver Damien Jones (the former pro baseball player who is now a 6-2, 215-pound flanker from Vigor in Prichard) and offensive lineman Dawson Brown (6-6, 310 of Harvest, a transfer from Alabama-Birmingham).
Other new names on the spring roster are:
Defensive back Stephen Allison (6-2, 208, soph, Bridgeport), wide receiver Jake Collins (6-0, 185, soph, Homewood), wide receiver Jimmie Dailey (6-2, 190, junior, Daphne, transfer from Highland Community College in Kansas), cornerback J. Michael Jones (5-11, 185, soph, Leighton), wide receiver Brandon McAway (5-10, 180, soph, Oxford), linebacker Carter Miller (5-11, 200, soph, Mobile, transfer from West Alabama), placekicker Ryan Saxby (6-1, 180, junior, Jonesboro, Georgia), placekicker Chris Shoup (5-10, 200, junior, Shannon, Mississippi), snapper Drew Warlaw (6-2, 230, soph, Clinton, Mississippi), and wide receiver Dale Williams (6-2, 180, junior, transfer from University of the South).