Browder wants to start at defensive end

Many Tide fans watched last week's Alabama-Mississippi All-Star game with particular interest in the play of Chris Browder. Browder didn't disappoint the Tide faithful, totaling three tackles, one for a four-yard loss.

Now he's ready to help improve the Tide's pass rush. "Right now, I like to play defensive end," Browder said. "My best skill is pass rushing."

The defensive end/outside linebacker from Wilcox Central High School is a devastating pass rusher who notched 29 sacks and 136 tackles in his senior year at Wilcox. That sack total is believed to be an Alabama high school record for one season. As a junior Browder totaled 109 tackles, 19 sacks, six forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries.

Admitting to some confusion during the recruiting process, Browder actually committed twice to Alabama, but the second time was the charm.

Standing 6-4, Browder is blessed with outstanding speed, which made him almost impossible to block off the edge in high school.

As recently as two weeks ago, Browder had been expected to enter prep school or a junior college, but he received word June 13 that he had passed the ACT test and would be attending the University of Alabama in the fall.

Browder has been working two-hour stretches in the weight room daily in the off-season, and that work has added needed heft to his frame. When he committed to the Tide last fall, he weighed 204; now he's up to 218 pounds, and no doubt will continue to add weight when he enters Alabama's conditioning program full-time.

While Browder likes the defensive end position, he says he's willing to contribute wherever he's needed most. "I want to play defensive end, but if I can't, I'll be glad to play linebacker," he says. "I just want to play."

The Tide coaches had assumed that their talented recruit would start off in the fall at outside linebacker, but they certainly agree that Browder's college future lies at defensive end. And Head Coach Dennis Franchione's policy of allowing incoming players to choose their starting position could come into play.

Browder (left) and defensive end signee Henry Smith visited Alabama together this past winter.

Tide fans that rightfully take pride in their school's rich tradition will like this statement. According to Browder, other schools' interest in him during the recruiting process was frankly a "distraction."

Although Browder is friends with Alabama point guard Antoine Pettway, he explains, "I was really an Alabama fan all my life, but then I got distracted when I was a senior. Really, (my final decision) came right down to me being an Alabama fan all my life."

As a senior Browder helped lead his high school to an undefeated regular season. That Wilcox-Central defense allowed fewer than five points per game. Following the season Browder was selected to the Tuscaloosa News Sweet Sixteen; Birmingham News Dandy Dozen; Mobile Press Register Elite 18; Birmingham Post-Herald 10 Most Wanted and the Montgomery Advertiser Elite 11 teams. He was rated the No. 11 linebacker prospect in the Southeast by SuperPrep.

During the All-Star game, Browder got to speak with fellow Tide commitments Demeco Ryans, Jeremy Clark and Ken Darby. One of the subjects they discussed was the problems Alabama has had with the NCAA.

What was the consensus opinion? "We just put it behind us," Browder stated. "They all said the same thing I said. It doesn't bother them either."

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