With scholarships at a premium, Machen's commitment last fall was welcome news to Tide fans. A former pro pitcher for the Baltimore Orioles and Atlanta Braves, Machen told BamaMag.com last week that he intends to enroll at The University for winter term and join the football team as a walk-on.
Some Alabama fans had worried about Michael Machen, thinking he might have been tempted to follow the previous staff to Texas A&M. But the Mobile native scoffed at the suggestion. "I have no interest in going there," he said. "If they have called and offered, I'm not aware of it. Plus if they did, I wouldn't go."
Machen (6-6, 235, 4.60) played just one season of high school football, before signing with the Braves after graduation. His pro contract will pay his way through college. Machen will be considered a non-recruited walk-on athlete at Alabama, meaning he will have no effect on the Tide's scholarship numbers.
The former McGill-Toolen standout visited the Alabama campus last fall, so he obviously dealt with the previous staff. When he first learned of Franchione's departure for College Station, Machen called Charley North to ask what was happening. According to Machen, North told him he would be welcomed at Texas A&M, but that it would be better for him (Machen) to stay at Alabama.
Not one to leave anything to chance, Machen took it upon himself to call Alabama's new coach, Mike Price, in Washington. Machen wanted to introduce himself and make certain Price was aware of his intentions. "I think Coach Price's offensive system should play right into my strengths as a quarterback," Machen said. "After I redshirt one year, I'll be ready to compete."
Wanting to make his adjustment from baseball to football as smooth as possible, Machen plans to redshirt his first season on campus, working to get stronger in the weight room and learn Price's offense. Since announcing for Alabama last October, Machen has lifted weights on a regular basis. His bench press is now over 300 pounds, and the lanky athlete has already added 10 pounds of bulk to his frame.
He'll need time to develop, but Machen has all the tools. As a senior he took over a high school squad that had won just one game the previous year, leading them to a 7-5 mark and a spot in the state playoffs. Interestingly, Alma Bryant High School eliminated Machen's team from the playoffs. Undefeated at the time, Alma Bryant featured a tall, swift defensive end named Antwan Odom.
Machen played football, basketball and obviously baseball in high school. "Alabama has no idea the quality of player that they are getting," said Chris Nemith, Machen's high school football coach.
Machen says that after entering school this January, he's looking forward to official visit weekends, as he wants to get the best players to join him in Crimson.