Summer Schedule Filling Up

College football season is now approaching rapidly, a fact that can be seen by some milestone dates on the July and August calendar. Alabama Head Coach Mike Shula and other administrators and staff returned from the Cruisin' with the Tide excursion on Sunday, along with a few hundred Crimson Tide fans.

July 6 concludes class for the first of two summer terms at the University of Alabama. Final exams for those classes take place on the 7th and 8th, and the second session begins on the 10th.

The beginning of the second session marks an influx of newcomers to the Alabama football program. Starting last year, incoming freshman were allowed to receiver scholarship aide for the summer prior to their first fall on campus. All of the Tide signees, except for cornerback Marcus Udell and linebacker LaBronski Hutchins are expected to enroll.

Before the cruise departed, athletics insider's weren't expecting what had become a tradition of sorts for Mike Shula's tenure at Alabama – the summer surprise. In each of his first three summers, Shula has awarded a scholarship to a new player in the summer. Don't expect it to continue this summer, but then again, that's why it's called a surprise.

The first was the late signing of Wallace Gilberry after the Alabama-Mississippi all-star game in 2003. That decision turned out quite well for everyone involved. In 2004, Jeffrey Dukes was picked up as a sophomore out of junior college and has been a solid contributor for the Tide for two years. He's expected to be a starter and a leader this year. Last year it was San Antonio's Eryk Anders. Anders took a redshirt last season, but has promising athleticism for the future.

For the video gamers, July 20 is a date you will want to take note of. The EA Sports web site projects that as the date its NCAA Football 2007 video game will hit stores.

SEC Media Days, the culmination of summer clamor about the upcoming season, is being held at the Wynfrey Hotel from July 26-28. The Alabama contingent of Mike Shula and – I'm betting Kenneth Darby and Ramzee Robinson will represent the Tide players (attendees have not been finalized) – will do the media walk-through on the first day of the event, a Wednesday afternoon.

The first day of practice will be August 8, with five days of work required before the squad can be in full pads. If Shula's scrimmage patterns follow those of previous years, the expected dates are August 14 (Monday), August 19 (Saturday) and August 22. Fall classes begin on August 23rd.

Another date Tide fans will want to note is Thursday, August 17, when former players Brodie Croyle and Charlie Peprah should get some significant face time on national television with their respective NFL teams. The Kansas City Chiefs (Croyle) and the New York Giants (Peprah) play at 7 p.m. CT on FOX.

Other nationally televised NFL preseason games involving Tide draftees include San Diego at Chicago on Friday, August 18, where Mark Anderson was the fifth-round pick of the Bears; Dallas against New Orleans on Monday, August 21 (ESPN 7 p.m. CT). Roman Harper was the second round draft pick of the Saints, who took Reggie Bush with their first round pick (the two were mini-camp roommates.); and Houston at Denver on Sunday, August 27 (NFL Network 7 p.m.) DeMeco Ryans was the second round pick of the Texans.

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