Alabama Football Attracts Walk-Ons

There are Alabama football followers who can name every scholarshipped player, giving details about each insofar as size, position, hometown, and history with the Crimson Tide. Those same fans could likely name a number of walk-on contributors to Bama football.

When Alabama released its spring football roster, it revealed a number of non-scholarshipped players. Some are relatively familiar, such as Thomas Darrah, the 6-6, 212-pound strong-armed sophomore quarterback from Newnan, Ga. Hampton Gray, the son of former Bama quarterback Alan Gray, has been a regular on the roster for several years. The 6--1, 194-pound defensive back from Northport will be a senior on the 2009 Crimson Tide.

There has always been a place for the walk-on player at Alabama. Where might the Tide have been if Rashad Johnson hadn't decided that he wasn't really a no-star prospect. Overlooked not only by the recruiting services, but also by the recruiting coordinators and coaches at all major colleges, Johnson walked on and became an All-America and two-time Alabama captain. He will likely be playing in the NFL.

Realistically, most walk-on players don't make much of a splash. Coaches and athletics departments have different philosophies regarding the walk-on. There are different levels. An invited walk-on is a player of reasonable ability who has attracted some attention from the coaching staff. Some schools do not accept walk-ons who just show up hoping to play for their school. There are some practical reasons for that stance. One, there is a limit to the number of coaches and the number of hours available to work with the football team, so a large number of walk-ons could prove to be anti-productive. For another, Title IX, the federal law regarding gender opportunity, looks at the numbers of men playing sports and compares it to women's opportunities.

In addition to Darrah and Gray, here are some other walk-on performers on the spring roster:

Alex Baker, soph linebacker, 6-2, 220, Birmingham Spain Park; T.J. Ballou, junior wide receiver, 5-11, 180, Meridian (Miss.) Northeast; Alex Benson, senior linebacker, 6-1, 210, Hewitt-Trussville; David Blalock, soph defensive lineman, 6-5, 221, Charlotte (N.C.) Providence; Drew Bullard, junior linebacker, 6-3, 240, Florence; Ty Burt, soph linebacker, 5-10, 220, Prattville; DeMarcus DeBose, soph linebacker, 5-11, 215, Montgomery Jeff Davis; Michael DeJohn, junior linebacker, 6-0, 220, Hoover; Rob Ezell, junior wide receiver, 5-10, 170, Athens; Adam Fuller, soph offensive lineman, 6-1, 290, Glencoe; Colin Gallagher, junior placekicker, 6-0, 180, Atlanta Marist;

Daren Hallman, soph lineman, 6-3, 230, Lynn Haven (Fla.) Mosley; Mark Holt, junior defensive back, 6-0, 169, Muscle Shoals; Alex Jackson, senior wide receiver, 5-9, 182, Marietta (Ga.) Alan Pope; Kelly Johnson, soph linebacker, 6-3, 217, Matthews (N.C.) Providence Day; Sam Kearns, soph defensive back, 5-6, 156, Mobile McGill-Toolen; J.B. Kern, senior linebacker, 6-1, 216, Dove Canyon (Calif.); Calvin Lee, soph linebacker, 6-2, 215, Chapin, S.C.; Will Lowery, soph defensive back, 5-9, 172, Hoover; Tyler Maddox, soph defensive back, 5-11, 188, Houston Memorial; Morgan Ogilvie, soph quarterback, 6-0, 185, Mountain Brook; Kyle Pennington, junior defensive back, 5-11, 177, Chatom Washington County;

Chris Scott, senior wide receiver, 5-11, 175, Birmingham Ramsay; Allen Skelton, soph offensive lineman, 6-1, 256, Coker Tuscaloosa County; William Strickland, soph wide receiver, 5-10, 173, Tuscaloosa Northridge; Melvin Taylor, junior wide receiver, 5-10, 175, Fort Belvoir, Va., Mascoutah Community; Heath Thomas, senior punter, 6-3, 213, Montgomery Trinity; Carson Tinker, soph offensive lineman, 6-1, 230, Murfreesboro (Tenn.) Riverdale; Jacob Vane, senior running back, 6-0, 228, Oak Ridge, Tenn.; A.J. Walker, junior wide receiver, 6-1, 185, Huntsville; and David Williams, freshman offensive lineman, 6-3, 272, Duncanville Hillcrest.

Many of those listed as sophomore were walk-on freshmen last year and did not play and, technically, were redshirted and have four years of eligibility, but they are listed as sophs on the official roster.

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