Nance, a 6-3, 210 pound linebacker/Tailback, signed with Alabama last winter, but he and the Tide coaches agreed that he would not enter school with the rest of the 2002 class. BamaMag.com spoke with Earnest late last week, and he's frankly a little down over being away from football.
"I'm really anxious to get to Tuscaloosa and get away from home," Nance said.
Heading into his senior season, Nance was considered one of the top prospects in the state. But a torn ACL in the fifth game of his season dealt a serious setback to his athletic plans, forcing Nance to undergo surgery and an arduous rehab to get back to 100 percent.
"I've been working out and getting the knee back to full strength," Nance said. "If I had to estimate, I'd say the knee is about 90 percent or better right now."
Out of high school but not yet in college, Nance says it's sometimes been difficult to stay focused, which is one reason why he's looking forward to getting to Alabama. "I'm still planning to enroll I January," Nance said. "I'm calling Coach (Charley ) North (Alabama's Director of Football Operations) this week to set up a time for them to check on my progress."
Torn ACLs are serious injuries, and athletes in college enjoying all the benefits of a team's medical staff and training crew can take up to a year to recover. Nance has had to go it on his own so far.
"I'm running, cutting and even dunking a basketball," he reported. "But I don't have all my mobility back yet."
NCAA sanctions have severely limited Alabama in terms of scholarships. Simply put, the Tide coaches must be certain that every athlete they bring in will be able to contribute and help the squad. Whether due to academics or injuries, attrition must be kept to a minimum.
Indications are that Alabama's allotment of 17 new grants for the 2002 season has been exhausted, so if Nance reports this January he would probably have to count against Bama's 2003 initial counters.
"Once I get on campus and get familiar with my surrounds, I will prove that I'm not a wasted scholarship," Nance said.
Nance played both linebacker and tailback in high school. In less than five games his senior year, he had compiled 827 yards rushing and nine touchdowns. Nance had also registered 84 tackles.
Nance is projected as an outside linebacker on the college level.