Living out your dreams

Many high school football players in Alabama grow up with visions of playing football for the Alabama Crimson Tide. <br><br>However, precious few are lucky enough to actually realize that dream.

Coming out of high school, an athlete by the name of Zach Fletcher had this dream. But, the 6-4 wide receiver from Moulton lacked some academic requirements. He went all the way to City College in San Francisco to try to get qualified.

Three years later, Fletcher has now arrived on campus.

Fletcher warms up for lifting by doing hanging leg raises. Normally, recruiting numbers are notoriously inaccurate, but he's every bit of the 6-3 inches tall that was reported when he signed.

"It was just a big dream of mine," Fletcher said. "That's basically it."

Anxious to get to Alabama, Fletcher wanted to sign last year, but contrary to some reports there was no scholarship available. And Fletcher noted a conference regulation that kept him in junior college for one more year. "An SEC rule says you have to go to a junior college for two years," Fletcher said. "I was there for two, but played basketball my first year and figured I could leave (after the second year)."

Fletcher had 45 catches for 1,057 yards and 15 touchdowns last season and 37 catches for 891 yards and six TDs in 2000. He earned all-conference honors both years.

A coach at Fletcher's high school, Lawrence County High School, knew a coach in San Francisco. He sent Zach out there to be a part of the West Coast offense, an attack that Fletcher said helped him in the long run. "They run the West Coast offense with five receivers," Fletcher said. "A lot of schools around here don't do that."

Another thing that could have prevented Fletcher's return to his home state was the Tide's two-year bowl ban. If the appeal is not successful, Fletcher will spend his only two years at the Capstone without playing in a bowl game.

Relieved that the wait is finally over, Fletcher arrived in Tuscaloosa early to get a jump on his conditioning.

However, that also didn't faze the youngster. "Who's to say that if I went to another school that they would be going to bowls," Fletcher said. "It didn't really matter. The coaches were very up front with me."

While playing for City College of San Francisco, Fletcher won 24 consecutive games, including back-to-back JC-Gridwire national titles. He was No. 41 in SuperPrep's JUCO Top-100 players.

Fletcher is on campus participating in voluntary workouts. He's hoping to earn a spot in Alabama's playing rotation at wide receiver in the fall, but right now he is focusing on getting acclimated to the Tide offense. "I just want to learn the plays and help the team out," Fletcher said. "I pretty much know how to do everything. My height will help me out a lot."

However, Fletcher will have to readjust to a more local setting now that he is back in the Southeast. "San Francisco's bigger and faster than everything in Tuscaloosa," he added. "There's a whole lot more going on."

But that shouldn't be a problem. After all, he is finally living out his dream.

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