New Tide athletes arrive at complex

Though the majority of them were already on campus, participating in voluntary workouts with the team, fifteen new scholarshipped players officially reported to Alabama Sunday.

# 11 Brandon Avalos

Brandon Avalos

6-1, 180, 4.55
Hillcrest HS, Tuscaloosa, AL

Bench press: 320
Incline bench press: 300
Vertical jump: 34 inches
Hang clean: 300
Squat: 500

Because Avalos is a gifted athlete, capable of playing several positions, there has been inevitable speculation about where he will end up. But at this point there is no doubt. "I'm a quarterback," Avalos stated firmly. "I understand that people saying I can play elsewhere is a compliment to me, but I'm a quarterback all the way.

"I'd describe myself as a multi-dimensional threat. I think I can run as well as I pass."

Avalos was one of the first athletes to commit to the Tide last summer. "This is the day I've been waiting for ever since I committed," he said. "I'm excited to come in and show everyone what I can do."

He enrolled in school for both first and second summer terms, and the Tuscaloosa native has been impressive in weight-room workouts. "I surprised myself as well as others," he said.

# 95 Ahmad Childress

Ahmad Childress

Defensive Tackle
6-5, 340, 5.0
Whites Creek HS, Nashville, TN

Bench press: 425

Bama fans had been sweating it out this summer, waiting anxiously for word that Childress had completed all of his college courses. His eligibility immediately solidifies the Tide defensive line.

With help needed immediately at defensive tackle, Ahmad Childress is virtually certain to earn a spot in the playing rotation immediately. The only question about the big man was whether or not he'd report in good condition, and his broad shoulders and flat stomach proved Childress has been working hard at conditioning as well as in the classroom. "I've been working out hard, lifting weights," Childress said. "The rest of the time I've been taking care of my school work."

Childress still needed 32 hours to become eligible last winter, which drove off many previously interested schools. "I really like this coaching staff," Childress said. "The whole time I was in junior college they stayed faithful to me. So I wanted to come back to them."

Childress and Derrick Pope, who also signed with the Tide last winter, both played together for Garden City Community College. "We talked a lot about which schools we'd attend," Childress said. "Both of us wanted to come to Alabama.

"I think there is an open door for me at defensive tackle. Alabama needs some help right away."

# 99 Jeremy Clark

Jeremy Clark

Defensive Line
6-3, 275, 4.7
Daphne HS, Daphne, AL

The announcement that Clark had achieved a qualifying test score earlier in the summer was excellent news to both Tide fans and coaches alike.

The former teammate of current Tiders Kenny King and Atlas Herrion, Clark is another outstanding lineman out of Daphne High School. "I was anxious to get here," Clark said. "I'm glad to finally be here and getting started."

Clark will likely start out at defensive end, but he's broad enough to handle the load on the inside as well. "I've played both positions, but I prefer defensive end," he said. "I'd like to play right away, but I'm willing to redshirt if necessary."

With the ability to play on the inside, Clark is one true freshman that could see action this year. "I've been getting ready for this all summer," he said. "I think I can make an impact. But if I redshirt I won't be disappointed."

Clark was one of only a few scholarshipped players that did not report to Tuscaloosa early, but he says he's been working out on his own and is ready to go.

# 33 Ken Darby

Ken Darby

5-10, 190, 4.54
Butler HS, Huntsville, AL

Bench press: 360
Incline bench press: 325
Vertical jump: 32 1/2 inches
Hang clean: 255
Squat: 405

Darby was the best tailback in Alabama last season, and he believes that will be his best position in college as well. But he's more than willing to work at A-Back this season if the coaches think that's best. "I'm more of a tailback person, but it doesn't matter," he said. "I'm elusive. I've got speed in the open field, but I can show power inside. My specialty is explosion."

As one of the first players to commit to Alabama, Darby takes special pride in the fact that this year's class remained faithful in spite of the NCAA sanctions. "This is a special class," he said. "Everyone stuck with it. There aren't a lot of us, but there are some great athletes."

"We've been pushing ourselves to get better. I'm ready. It's time for two-a-days. I'm ready."

# 72 Grant Dickey

Grant Dickey

Offensive Line
6-5, 305, 5.28
Lee HS, Tyler, TX

Bench press: 380
Incline bench press: 315
Vertical jump: 24 1/2 inches
Hang clean: 245
Squat: 455

As the only offensive lineman signed with this year's class, Dickey knows he'll be counted on to provide depth quickly. But he doesn't necessarily think that will mean he'll play this season. "I think most of the time freshmen need some time," he said. "I'm smaller than the veteran guys right now. But I think I stack up pretty well.

"I'll probably start out at guard. That's the position I'm better suited to play."

A native of Texas, Dickey is happy for the chance to play for Alabama. "It's just the tradition," he said. "My uncle is a coach, and Jimmy Dickey, his dad, gave Coach Franchione his first job."

# 80 Zach Fletcher

Zach Fletcher

Wide Receiver
6-3, 195
Lawrence County HS, Moulton, AL

Because of car trouble, Fletcher was late in signing in this afternoon.

The JUCO transfer has been enrolled in class this summer and working out with the squad for several weeks.

A tall, athletic receiver, Fletcher has good leaping ability and is excellent on routes across the middle.

Obviously he'll have to prove himself during two-a-days with everyone else, but the Tide coaches sign junior college athletes with the intent of playing them immediately.

A native of Moulton, Alabama, Fletcher wanted to sign with the Tide out of high school. But grades prevented that, and he ended up playing one year of basketball in junior college before switching to football.

Fletcher has two years to get in his two remaining seasons of eligibility.

# 42 Juwan Garth

Juwan Garth

6-2, 190, 4.6
Austin HS, Decatur, AL

Bench press: 280
Incline bench press: 260
Vertical jump: 33 inches
Hang clean: 265
Squat: 385

When the NCAA sanctions were announced last February, rival recruiters immediately began to call Alabama's committed prospects. But the group stood firm. "I don't even think it's a problem," Garth said. "After two years, it'll all be gone. It tells you something about a person when he commits and doesn't back down."

He's likely to get a look at wide receiver during fall camp, but Garth has also caught the eye of Tide Defensive Coordinator Carl Torbush who thinks he'd make an excellent Rover. "I ran track and played basketball in high school as well as football," Garth said. "Coach Torbush keeps up with my weight. I think I'll eventually play at around 210 pounds. I don't want to get too big. 215 would be a nice weight for me."

"I'm not intimidated by college football yet," he continued. "I'm really looking forward to practicing with the older players to show them what I can do."

# 91 Chris Harris

Chris Harris

Defensive End
6-6, 230, 4.72
Central HS, Tuscaloosa, AL

Bench press: 350
Incline bench press: 315
Vertical jump: 28 inches
Hang clean: 275
Squat: 410

Possessing the prototype frame for defensive end, Chris Harris is one that will get a long look from the coaching staff this fall. "I'm a defensive end," he said. "A redshirt year would probably be a good idea. It would give me the chance to learn the system, to get stronger and gain weight."

The Tide coaches really like Harris' potential rushing the passer. "I can get after the quarterback," he said. "I'm a pass-rush specialist."

A native of Tuscaloosa, Harris has been participating in voluntary workouts all summer. "I've been working hard to try and reach my goals," he said. "I look around and see a lot of talent. The older guys talk to me, but they really haven't given me a lot of advice yet."

# 15 Nic Luke

Nic Luke

6-0, 213, 4.74
Central HS, Phenix City, AL

Bench press: 375
Incline bench press: 315
Vertical jump: 31 inches
Hang clean: 285
Squat: 475

Luke has the frame to put on more weight and play fullback or W, but he'll start off at tailback. "Tailback, linebacker, strong safety, free safety, I've played a lot of positions," he said. "Though I definitely think I'm through with defense. I'd like to get on the field any way possible---even on special teams.

"I don't worry about the depth chart. Just work hard and everyone will respect you. I will start at tailback, but whatever it takes to get on the field."

Luke is the brother of Bama receiver Triandos. "It's nice to have your brother around," he said. "He's been watching out for me and showing me around."

# 31 Greg McLain

Greg McLain

6-3, 235, 4.65
Lineville HS, Lineville, AL

Bench press: 330
Incline bench press: 300
Vertical jump: 32 1/2 inches
Hang clean: 275
Squat: 500

Another versatile athlete, capable of playing several positions, McLain will start off at linebacker. "I played pretty much everywhere in high school," he said. "Defensive end, fullback, linebacker, halfback, flanker, defensive back and even placekicker."

And can he kick the ball into the endzone? "It's possible."

McLain begins his college career weighing close to 240 pounds, but he doesn't think that's too heavy for linebacker. "Coach Torbush says that's OK, so long as I keep my speed."

Like the rest of Bama's signees, McLain had to fend off recruiters when the Tide's sanctions were announced. "My phone was ringing off the hook," he said. "But I told them I was still going to Alabama. This class stuck it out. We're going to make it worthwhile."

# 6 Derrick Pope

Derrick Pope

6-0, 223, 4.5
Garden City CC, Galveston, TX

Pope was also a "no show" with the media Sunday afternoon, but he had already checked in with the coaching staff.

Fast and powerful, Pope can play either outside or inside linebacker, but he's likely to get most of his work at "Mike" this season. In fact, one of the fiercest battles this fall will likely be waged between Pope and Freddie Roach for No. 1 at middle linebacker.

The nephew of Tide Assistant Head Coach Kenith Pope, Derrick is an excellent weight lifter. Coach Pollard reports that he and Cornelius Wortham are likely to break all the linebacker records before they're done.

# 17 Ramzee Robinson

Ramzee Robinson

5-10, 175, 4.5
Butler HS, Huntsville, AL

Bench press: 350
Incline bench press: 320
Vertical jump: 34 1/2 inches
Hang clean: 250
Squat: 405

Along with Ken Darby, Robinson was an early commitment for the Tide. "We both had the same goals since childhood, to earn a scholarship and eventually play in the NFL," Robinson said. "We're rooming together this year, and we've only had two fights so far."

Robinson could get a look at receiver this fall, but cornerback is where he's slated to play. "Whatever it takes to help the team, that's what I'm willing to do," he said. "For cornerbacks you've got to be able to turn and go full speed out of your backpedal. Turning and breaking on the ball, that's just natural for me."

"I played wide receiver as a freshman and sophomore, but I moved to quarterback when my coaches asked. Whatever it takes to get the ball in my hands, that's what they said."

# 35 DeMeco Ryans

DeMeco Ryans

6-1, 210, 4.5
Lanier HS, Bessemer, AL

Bench press: 375
Incline bench press: 335
Vertical jump: 34 ½ inches
Hang clean: 250
Squat: 500

Another athlete cited by Coach Franchione with an excellent chance of playing this fall, Ryans will get every chance to impress the Tide coaches during fall camp.

Ryans was considered the top prep linebacker in the state last year. "I played inside most of high school, and I think that's where I'll end up," he said. "But I'll play outside some too. I just want to play."

Ryans has been on campus the last month, lifting and working out with the team. "I'm not too nervous right now, but I'm anxious to see what college football is all about," he said. "I'm ready to get started. It's been a long week and I want to get out there on the field."

# 23 David Scott

David Scott

6-0, 180, 4.5
Homestead HS, Homestead, FL

Bench press: 315
Incline bench press: 295
Vertical jump: 37 inches
Squat: 400

Expected to contend immediately for playing time at cornerback, Scott arrives at Alabama with two seasons of eligibility left. "I think I'll play," he said. "So far everything has been good. I like it here. I'm ready to play.

"My specialty is man-to-man defense. I'm a cover corner guy. I like to get up in a receiver's face. Let's get at it. I'm ready to get back in the groove."

Scott originally signed with North Carolina and its then head coach Carl Torbush, but he transferred to a junior college after his freshman year. "Having Coach Torbush here at Alabama helped my decision to sign," he said. "I'm already familiar with the type defense he likes to run."

# 85 Kyle Tatum

Kyle Tatum

Defensive Line
6-6, 260, 4.7
Prattville HS, Prattville, AL

Bench press: 335
Incline bench press: 315
Vertical jump: 31 1/2 inches
Hang clean: 300
Squat: 475

Rated by many as the top collegiate prospect in the state last year, Tatum will get an early chance to earn playing time. But his main goal is to do what's best for the team. "I just want to play football," he said. "But I'm not selfish. If a redshirt year is what's best, that's OK."

Tatum has impressive size and moves remarkably well for a big man, which made him a hot commodity on the recruiting trail last year. "When the sanctions were announced I started getting the phone calls again," he said. "Florida State, LSU, they all called. But they stopped when I told them I was firm to Alabama."

Tatum got to Tuscaloosa several weeks ago, and he's been working hard since. "I wanted to get started early and learn the system," he said. "I think I've put up pretty good numbers. The coaches seemed happy. I'm very anxious to get started. Let's get it in gear."

EDITOR'S NOTE: Alabama signed 20 players last February. Three, Chauncey Malone, Titus Ryan and Henry Smith were previously announced as headed to junior college. Earnest Nance will delay his entry in school until January of 2003. That allows the coaches to count his scholarship either this year or next, but his "five years to play four" will not start until the 2003 season. A problem with his high school transcript will likely mean that Chris Browder will not be eligible this fall.

Though as of Sunday afternoon (4th) he had not yet signed official scholarship papers with Alabama, it's widely believed that receiver Marcus McKnight will take Browder's scholarship this fall.

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