Fanney Makes Impact At Outside Linebacker

Brandon Fanney would be expected to know Tennessee football. He grew up about 40 minutes from Knoxville in Morristown. He went to Hargrave Academy where his teammates included two outstanding players who are now Tennessee Vols. His father was a Tennessee fan.

But Brandon Fanney is all Alabama. And he said always has been a Crimson Tide fan. The 6-4, 257-pound junior is in the right place at the right time as this week Bama heads to Knoxville to take on the Tennessee Volunteers.

Kickoff Saturday will be at 7:45 p.m. EDT (6:45 central) with national television coverage by ESPN. Bama is 7-0 and ranked second in the nation and the Vols are 3-4.

Fanney plays the jack linebacker in Alabama's 3-4 defense. And you can't blame Fanney if he thinks it's more a 4-3. Although the jack stands up line a linebacker occasionally, Fanney said, "It's not all that different from defensive end. My hand is in the dirt about 90 per cent of the time. That's my home. Still, the other defensive linemen are jealous because I get to stand up sometimes."

Fanney moved into a starting role this year, replacing the graduated Keith Saunders. Through seven games Fanney has been in on 28 tackles and has five and a half tackles for losses totaling 16 yards plus half a sack. He's broken up one pass and has one quarterback hurry.

Three of the past four weeks, including last Saturday's win over Ole Miss, Fanney has been selected by the Alabama coaching staff as one of the Crimson Tide's defensive players of the week.

Fanney said he "never had any intention of signing with Tennessee." Although his father was a Vols fan, everyone else in the family – including a favorite uncle – cheered for Alabama, and Brandon went with the Bama crowd. He played in high school for Coach Don Woods, a native of Hartselle and brother of former Alabama running backs coach Sparky Woods. It was Sparky who recruited Fanney to Alabama following his 2003 prep season. "Alabama was an easy choice," Fanney said.

Fanney had a detour, though, a year at Hargrave Military Academy in Virginia. There his teammates included Ramon Foster, now a starting offensive tackle for UT, and Demonte Bolden, a starting defensive tackle for the Vols.

Even though he was an Alabama fan, Fanney expects this week's game to be a little like a homecoming with family and friends attending the game.

Fanney was redshirted in 20045 played sparingly as a defensive lineman in 2006, then was a back-up jack linebacker last year, seeing action in 10 games and being involved in seven tackles.

He said his improvement and overall team improvement this year is from "having a second year in it (the Nick Saban system). We practice hard and everyone on the team is improving. Everyone makes everyone else better."

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