Who Is Added Today To Football Roster?

There are key dates on the Alabama football calendar. For the Crimson Tide football team, today may not be one of the more important dates. But for some 20 or so University students, it's a big day. It's the first day of classes, which means the Bama football roster can be expanded.

Alabama opened fall camp on August 1 with the maximum 105 players permitted to be in camp before the start of fall semester classes on August 20, today. Technically, there is no limit on the size of the squad after school begins. From a practical standpoint, the roster will not be expanded greatly.

The number being tossed around, at least among media types, was 20 players joining the squad.

Among the reasons for not opening the gates to dozens of potential walk-on players are time and coaching staff constraints. There are time limits on the amount of time that can be spent in practice and there are limits on the size of a coaching staff, which effectively limits the number of players who can be coached. There is also the legal problem that stems from Title IX, the Federal law that guarantees equal opportunities in sports for women. There are no women trying out for football, and so the number of opportunities would become heavy on the male side if there were too many walk-ons permitted.

The original reporting roster included 83 scholarshipped players, including newcomers. After one player left the squad, Coach Nick Saban announced Tuesday that three current walk-on players, all juniors, had been given scholarships. They are placekicker Leigh Tiffin, punter P.J. Fitzgerald, and defensive back Tyrone King.

It is no secret that one man joining the squad today is wide receiver Will Oakley, a 6-1, 196-pound senior two-year letterman. Oakley suffered a stress fracture in his foot in summer strength workouts. Saban said Oakley would be evaluated for play in about a month. Alabama opens the season in a little over a week against Clemson in the GeorgiaDome in Atlanta. Kickoff for that game on Saturday, August 31, will be at 8 p.m. EDT (7 p.m. central time).

The odds are long against any of those joining the squad at this late date figuring into plans for the Clemson game, even though Alabama's specific preparation for Clemson is not expected to begin until Thursday. Historically, there is a greater possibility of participation on special teams than on offense or defense.

It could be that an expanded roster will be issued quickly, but that has not been the track record under Saban. The additions to the practice field are likely to include a mixture of players who have previously participated in Alabama practices (or even Crimson Tide games) and newcomers. Here's a look at some who previously have participated and may be rejoining the squad:

Many expect Jonathan Lowe, a senior tailback who has been utilized as a kick return man, to return, but others think he shut himself out when he returned to his hometown of Phenix City in the summer instead of staying in Tuscaloosa and participating in off-season workouts.

Kickers have long been among the walk-on candidates and Andrew Friedman, a junior from Fairhope, has been a practice regular (and has had a little game action) the past two years. Another kicker from the spring roster is Colin Gallagher.

Somewhat like kickers, there frequently are walk-on deep snappers in camp. There were at least a couple, Carson Tinker and Darren Hallman, brought into fall camp to compete with Brian Selman. One who didn't report on August 1 is returning back-up Paul Silvey, and he won't be back. He transferred to South Alabama. Another from spring practice who could return is Spencer Whitfield.

Before there was Terrence Cody there was an intriguing nose guard candidate in Alabama practices. Juan Garnier, 6-4, 315, from Everett, Massachusetts, had been on the squads at Auburn and Ohio State before transferring to Alabama a year ago. He was on the spring roster.

More often than not, the walk-ons are kickers or skill position players. The least likely position for a walk-on to make it is quarterback, but they do try. Among the quarterbacks in spring practice who might return are Alex Jackson and Ross Applegate.

Defensive backs from spring practice who weren't on the reporting roster are Beryele Lockett, Mark Holt, Stanley Phillips, and T.J. Ballou.

Running backs from the spring who may be rejoining the squad are Justen Santana (a tailback) and Patrick Hanrahan and Jacob Vane (fullbacks).

Through the years a number of walk-on wide receivers have earned playing time. Among those who were out in the spring and not on the reporting roster are Chis Scott, Melvin Taylor and Kyle Pennington.

Linebackers are in short supply among walk-ons. In the spring, Alabama had Joe Robinson, Brandon Powell and Alex Benson.

Drew Cummings was a tight end and defensive end candidate in the spring.

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