Walk the Walk

Twenty-one athletes, including five members of the Alabama football squad, will graduate from the University of Alabama this semester.

Running back Kenneth Darby, defensive back Jeffrey Dukes, defensive linemen Chris Harris and Keith Saunders and offensive lineman Kyle Tatum will participate in graduation ceremonies Saturday morning, then proceed to practice Saturday afternoon in preparation for the Independence Bowl on December 28.

"That's what you come to school for is to get that degree," interim head football coach Joe Kines said. "We are proud of those guys."

The Alabama football team will have eight graduates on the field when Alabama takes on Oklahoma State in the 2006 PetroSun Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La.

The 21 student-athletes represent 11 of the Crimson Tide's varsity sports, including baseball, women's basketball, football, women's golf, rowing, softball, men's swimming and diving, women's tennis, men's and women's track and field and volleyball.

"Having 21 graduates in the December ceremony is quite remarkable," Jon Dever, Alabama's assistant athletics director for student services said. "These students have worked very hard to either graduate on time or in some cases early. It is a reflection of their work ethic in the classroom. We are very proud of what they have accomplished."

Four-time NCAA champion gymnast Ashley Miles and two-time NCAA champion swimmer Stefan Gherghel will both receive their degrees Saturday along with track and field All-American Latasha Pharr.

Baseball second baseman Evan Bush, a four-year starter, and softball shortstop Dominique Accetturo, a four-year starter, both graduate after helping their respective teams to SEC Championships last season. Women's basketball players Navonda Moore and Leah Drury won't be on hand to pick up their degrees on Saturday since they will be in Rushton, Louisiana with the Tide to take on Louisiana Tech.

Also graduating will be: Keith Baker, Byron Gibson and Lemual Clayborn, men's track and field; Katie Barker and Jessica Yearout, volleyball; Lisa Andrzejewski and Audrey Gale, women's golf; Natalie McElveen, women's tennis; Stephanie Rainey, rowing.

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