Newcomers report for practice

After two months of voluntary workouts, 25 newcomers are about to realize what life at the University of Alabama is all about. <br><br>The list of newcomers includes 15 scholarshipped players plus 10 walk-ons.

The list of qualified newcomers includes Ahmad Childress, a 6-7 defensive tackle who passed 32 hours of coursework since January to become eligible. Jeremy Clark, a defensive lineman from Daphne, also received positive results from the clearinghouse and arrived on campus Sunday.

DeMeco Ryans is anxious to get started.

But one thing is for certain. Each and every one of these newcomers are ready to step on the practice field.

"I'm ready to get started," said DeMeco Ryans, a linebacker from Bessemer. "It's been a long wait, but I'm ready to get back out there on the field."

One freshman who is ready to get out there is Kenneth Darby, a running back who was the Tide's first commitment last May when he committed. Darby has been here since the second summer session started, but has been looking forward to this day for a long time

"I've been ready since I got here the first day," Darby said. "Tomorrow will tell everything. I've been ready to play, even practice, for a long time."

Head coach Dennis Franchione is ready hit the ground running with this new group of freshmen and transfers.

"We're excited to get started," Franchione said. "We feel like this is a special group entering our football family. I'm excited to see them get on the field and see what they can do."

The jitters will be there at first, but that is usually expected when a player enters a school. Grant Dickey, an offensive lineman from Tyler, Texas, already knows about it.

Coach Franchione believes this group of signees has a chance to carve a place in Alabama history.

"It's a little different ball game from high school," Dickey said. "I'm a little nervous, but that's all right. I need to get my feet wet before the other people come in. I'm looking forward to getting back."

But what makes this group special is the fact that they chose to come to school under the blanket of NCAA probation. The probation means that the Tide will be forced to miss post-season play for the next two years, unless the appeal is reversed. However, that didn't stop this group from chasing their dreams.

"This is a real special class," said Brandon Avalos, a quarterback from Hillcrest High School in Tuscaloosa. "Everyone has so much heart, and really wants to play here."

However, the recruiting class took a hit when Franchione revealed that Chris Browder, a linebacker from Camden, would probably not be able to report.

"It does not look like Chris Browder is going to be a qualifier," Franchione said. "I'm about 95 percent sure about that right now."

Christopher Browder

Franchione also said that Earnest Nance, a linebacker from Courtland will not report until January due to a severe knee injury suffered during his senior season of high school. Since Nance will not enroll until January, his "five years to play four" will not begin until the 2003 season.

Earnest Nance

The newcomers will hit the practice field Monday, with practices at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday will be taken up with academic meetings. Wednesday will again be a newcomers-only workout, with sessions scheduled for 11 am and 2:45 pm. The first full-squad practices will be Friday, August 9.

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.

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

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