105 roster released

Though the list is subject to change up until the very minute that the full squad begins practice, Alabama released its 105-man early reporting roster last night. <br><br>A close reading of the names--focusing just as much on who is not listed as who is--can reveal some interesting insight.

Ellington included

Dante Ellington is listed on the roster. Normally, that would be no surprise, but strong rumors persist about the senior tackle's academic status. Ellington has never taken a redshirt year, which means he would still have a year of eligibility left---even if he cannot compete this season. But given the severe restrictions that Alabama is operating under due to NCAA sanctions, many fans familiar with how college football works would predict that second-team athletes struggling to remain eligible would be given a push out the door.

Dante Ellington

But Dante Ellington remains a member of the team.

(By the way, the current Tide players understand that conditioning and a tendancy to jump off sides cost Ellington his starting job. But they will still tell you that Ellington is probably the most gifted pass blocking lineman on the squad.)

Gerard Clark absent

Former defensive end Gerard Clark is not on the roster. Equally strong rumors about his academic status have swirled all summer, so his absence is not a surprise to anyone close to the program. At this point no official announcement has been made about Clark's status, but the fact that he will not be a part of the 105 speaks volumes.

Placekicking competition will extend beyond two-a-days

Surprisingly, no new placekickers are included. As Franchione indicated earlier, only five kicking specialists will be a part of the 105. They include Lane Bearden (punter), Nick Ridings (long snapper), Brian Bostick (PK), Mike McLaughlin (PK) and Michael Ziifle (punter and PK).

Franchione said Monday that placekicker was probably the only job on the squad in which a player could come out No. 1 without being a part of the 105 roster. When classes begin, several candidates hoping to impress can rejoin the team.

Competition for inclusion fierce

Numerous talented walk-on athletes have spent the summer in Tuscaloosa, working out with the squad. Because of that, Coach Franchione has said that paring down the list to only 105 names was an extremely difficult process.

Michael Ziifle's versatility as both a punter and placekicker made him an easy choice for inclusion on the 105.

Ten new walk-ons have already reported, including Max Skembo (QB), Trevis O'Neal (RB), Grant Nailen (CB), Allen Long (LB), Taylor Britt (DT), Cody Grammer (center), J.P. Adams (DE), William Hold (FL) and Jason Bolding (FL).

Given the quality of new talent, the competition among experienced walk-on players to be a part of the 105 was intense. Returning walk-on veterans that will report Wednesday include Jon Brunson (DE), David Cavan (TE), Montre Walker (center), Boone Stutz (long snapper and OT), Teddy Gryska (TE), Rafael Tyrus (CB), Nathan Cox (FB), Lance Taylor (FL), Josh Smith (TB), Joel Babb (WR), Marc Miller (SS), Matt Miller (QB) and Carl McInnish (SS).

Some will be disappointed

Like most coaches, Franchione is frustrated by the NCAA rule that limits his fall camp to 105 athletes. The rule works against hard-working walk-ons all over the country, but a school like Alabama is especially hard-hit.

Many deserving veteran walk-ons could not be included in the 105. Notable among the missing are Victor Winters (FL), Alex Fox (PK), P.J. Fletcher (LB), Eric Moore (DB), John Bevel (OL), Brandon Dean (LB), Mitch Grissett (long snapper), Brad Biel (LB), T.J. Shaddix (DL) and JoLee Taylor (DT).

Senior receiver Joel Babb is included.

Of course there are scores of other veteran walk-ons that had to be left off as well.

Player weights not easy to track

On a different note, fans hoping for updated information on player weights will be disappointed. The numbers given for returning athletes are identical to those that appeared on the spring roster.

Fitting the bill

Two newcomers sport interesting stats. Trevis O'Neal, a talented tailback who somehow fell through the recruiting cracks this past season, is listed at 6-2, 235 pounds. He's all of that, prompting several practice observers to label him a fullback in waiting.

Linebacker Greg McLain has played virtually every position in football, but his quick feet and broad shoulders (he's listed at 6-3, 230) indicate a promising future at middle linebacker.

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