A New Stable of Running Backs for Tide

Alabama was expected to sign at least two top running backs in the class of 2005, but Coach Mike Shula hopes to add four top backs to the fall roster. <b> Glen Coffee, Ali Sharrief, Mike Ford, </b> and <b> Roy Upchurch</b> talk about their grades, and when they will enroll at the University of Alabama.

Questions are asked daily about the qualifying status of the 2005 signees. Tide coaches and fans are especially interested in the running backs expected on campus for the summer session and ready to compete in the fall. 

The first running back to commit to the University of Alabama was Glen Coffee from Fort Walton Beach High School. After receiving his first offer from Middle Tennessee State, Coffee was waiting for his first SEC offer. Alabama extended the first offer and landed a superb prospect.

Coffee was in Tuscaloosa for Alabama's A-Day game. He saw several things he liked about the Tide.

"A-Day was really cool. The defense looked really good. I could tell the offense really needs some running backs. The crowd was amazing. I couldn't believe that many people were there," said Coffee.

Current Alabama running back, Kenneth Darby, is recovering from surgery, and is expected to be 100% by the time the Tide hits the field for fall practice, if not sooner. Coffee sees immediate playing time available, which is the main reason he chose the Alabama.

"I am coming to compete. I am coming to start this fall. I don't see myself sitting on the bench at all. I am a very hard worker. The one who gets the job done will be the one starting. I am getting ready to come play ball."

Coffee has maintained a strong relationship with his position coach, Coach Sparky Woods.

"I really like Coach Woods a lot. He is real cool. I like talking to him. He wants me to come in this fall and get the job done. I feel like I will do that."

The high school days are almost over for Coffee. He plans to enroll at the Capstone during the second semester of summer school, hoping to get an early start on becoming a star running back at Alabama.

"I am qualified. All I have left is graduation. I plan to enroll at Alabama July 5. I am currently 6-1, 205. I am hoping to get a little bit bigger before fall practice begins," said Coffee.

Video: Glen Coffee*

After making a commitment to Auburn, the Crimson Tide started to look like a contender for his signature as Ali Sharrief was noticed several times on the Tuscaloosa campus in the fall. In December, Sharrief finally decided to end the madness as he switched his commitment to the Tide. One of the main concerns was Sharrief's ability to qualify. The North Jackson power back is now happy to say he will arrive in Tuscaloosa before anyone expected.

"Everything is straight. There are no worries at all. After combining my scores on the ACT, I now have a good enough test score. My GPA is good, and everything is straight with my grades," said Sharrief.

After Alabama signed four running backs in the 2005 class, it was realistic to think one of the four might switch positions. The first guess was Sharrief because of his size and ability to play other positions, but he is coming to Alabama for one reason, to play running back.

"I think I am going to do pretty good. They recruited me as a running back, and that is what I will be playing at Alabama. The coaches have never said anything to me about playing another position. Coach Ball has said the opportunity for me to come in and play as a freshman is tremendous."

Sharrief is working-out, and preparing to enroll at Alabama this summer.

"I got the work-out program from the coaches, and I have been working out everyday. I run a lot too. I ran an 11.1 in the 100m the other day, but I slipped after about 30m. I know I would have broken 11.0. I want to get bigger and stronger before I get to Alabama. Right now, I am about 5-9, 208. I plan to be in Tuscaloosa this June to begin classes," said Sharrief.

Video: Ali Sharrief

A surprise commitment for the Crimson Tide was Mike Ford from Sarasota High School. Ford was the leading rusher in the state of Florida during his senior year as he rushed for 2,836 yards with 37 touchdowns. After signing with Alabama February 2, the chances were very high that Ford would head to junior college or prep school in the fall. Ford is taking the ACT again for different reasons.

"I am taking the ACT again very soon. I made an 18 the last time I took it. I want to make a 20. I don't have to take it, but I want to take it for myself. I have a 2.5 GPA right now, and I am working on getting a 3.0. I am already fully qualified. I will be in Tuscaloosa the third week of June," said Ford.

Florida's leading rusher was not in Tuscaloosa for Alabama's A-Day game, but he made sure one family member was on campus.

"I was unable to attend. I had a track meet that day, but my mom went to it. She loved it. She had a lot of fun that day."

Ford is staying in excellent shape, and is expecting big things when he puts on the Alabama jersey.

"I am working out a lot, and running track right now. I am staying in very good shape. I am currently 6-2, 205. I am going to be a new man once I arrive on campus. If Adrian Peterson can do what he did in his first year, then Mike Ford can do it at Alabama. I am coming in ready to play, and I am hoping to start, " said Ford.

Video: Mike Ford

The intensity of Roy Upchurch's recruitment lasted until January 31, when he made his public commitment to Alabama. After breaking every rushing record at Godby High School in Tallahassee, Florida, Upchurch brought over 1,500 members to the BamaMag message boards to hear of his college decision.

Upchurch knows what he must do in order to be in Tuscaloosa this fall, but claims there is no doubt in his mind he will wear an Alabama jersey September 3, against Middle Tennessee State.

"I am going to take the ACT one more time. The coaches have said I need a 2.7 GPA, and I would not have to take the ACT again. I talked to all of my teachers, and asked them how my grades were going right now. They said I would have over a 2.7 easily. I know I will be in Tuscaloosa this summer. I am coming in June, and I will begin taking summer classes," said Upchurch.

Upchurch is on the Alabama work-out program, and is ready to move from the Sunshine State to Tuscaloosa.

"I am working out a lot, and I am getting bigger and stronger. I am currently 6-0, 193. I have my bench up to 325 lbs., and I am running a lot."

There are several prospects at Godby High School for the class of 2006. Upchurch believes the Tide has a very good chance with a couple of them.

"We have DeAndre McDaniel. He is a superstar. Every school is recruiting him. There is no telling where he will end up. I know that he is looking at Alabama. He said he was going to take one of his official visits to Alabama. Kareem Crowell is another big time prospect. He is probably going to Alabama. I am really working on him, and I know he likes Alabama a lot. Kevin McCaskill is interested in Alabama as well. He is a big offensive lineman. A few other prospects are Marcus Udell, Kendall Williams, and Frank Grimes."

Video: Roy Upchurch

Four running backs have worked very hard to reach their goal of arriving on Alabama's campus sooner rather than later. The chances of Alabama adding four running backs to the fall roster look very promising.

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