Freshmen report at UA, AU and TSU
Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 6, 2002
Freshmen college football players reported to school Sunday and were welcomed to campus by their coaches.
The University of Alabama, Auburn University and Troy State University issued press releases regarding the newest members of the football teams at each school.
University of Alabama
University of Alabama Head Coach Dennis Franchione welcomed 25 newcomers to the Tide football program Sunday afternoon as preparations for the 2002 football season officially got underway.
"I'm excited," Franchione said, "this group is a special one.
I think everyone is ready to get started and that will be at 3 and 7:30 p.m. on Monday.
We'll let the freshmen start where they want and you might see them on offensive one practice and then on defense the next."
After redshirting all but one in the class of 2001, Franchione said he would not automatically repeat that move this year.
"Going into two-a-days, we're saying if they're ready to play, then they will," he said.
"There has to be a value for them to play that first year."
A total of 14 of the newcomers will begin practice on defense, including junior college transfer linebacker Derrick Pope, defensive lineman Ahmad Childress and cornerback David Scott.
"We expect the junior college kids to offer immediate help," Franchione said, "when you sign them, you need their help right away."
After Monday's two practices, the Tide players will not be on the field Tuesday, but return for two practices on Wednesday.
That evening, the veterans report, including Mitch Grissett of Red Level, with the first day of combined practices scheduled for Friday at 10:45 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.
Here is a complete list of the players who reported on Sunday afternoon: J.P. Adams, defensive end; Brandon Avalos, quarterback; Jason Bolding, flanker; Taylor Britt, defensive tackle; Ahmad Childress, defensive tackle; Jeremy Clark, defensive tackle; Ken Darby, tailback; Grant Dickey, offensive guard; Zach Fletcher, flanker; Juwan Garth, rover; Cody Grammer, offensive guard; Chris Harris, defensive end; William Hold, flanker; Allen Long, linebacker; Nic Luke, tailback; Greg McLain, linebacker; Marcus McKnight, flanker; Grant Nailen, cornerback; Trevis O'Neal, tailback; Derrick Pope, linebacker; DeMeco Ryans, linebacker; Ramzee Robinson, cornerback;
David Scott, cornerback; Max Skembo, quarterback and Kyle Tatum, defensive end.
Auburn Head Coach Tommy Tuberville and his staff welcomed 35 newcomers as the Auburn first-year players reported to campus Sunday afternoon. The group consisted of 24 members of the 2002 signing class and 11 invited walk-ons, including Andalusia's Joe Cope.
"It's a good group of players,'' Tuberville said. "Most of these players have been here for at least a month. It's really going to help the players that have been here. Obviously, they'll have an advantage starting in the next few days because they understand what we're going to ask of them.
"The wide receivers are one of the groups that will have a chance to play. We have a good mixture of players with speed that can catch the ball. We'll look for between 10-15 of the newcomers to play against Southern Cal, either on special teams or at their position.''
The newcomers' agenda for their first day included physicals, equipment issue, interviews with the media and a team meeting.
The group will begin practice Monday with a morning (9:30 a.m.) and afternoon (4:45 p.m.) session. The newcomers will practice twice Tuesday and use Wednesday for meetings.
Auburn's veteran players report to campus Wednesday, Aug. 7. The entire team will participate in the first day of two-a-days on Thursday with sessions starting at 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. on the intramural fields.
Auburn's fan day is scheduled for Saturday, August 10 from 1-3 p.m. at Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum. Admission is free.
Troy State head football coach Larry Blakeney kicked off his 12th season with the Trojans on Sunday afternoon, welcoming 32 first-year players to campus. All of the newcomers, made up equally of walk-on invitees and scholarship recipients, were checked in by 3 p.m.
The group was scheduled to complete physicals and meet with the coaching staff to cap off their first official day. The 2002 season will be Troy State's first as a full Division I-A member. The Trojans open the season at Nebraska on Aug. 31, one of eight games against I-A competition.
"This should be the best class we have ever signed," Blakeney said. "We have been talking about Division I-A for three years, and this will be our second full class to come here for that reason. It is a group loaded with wide receivers and linebackers, two areas that we needed to address in recruiting. We also have two quarterbacks (Matt Ray and Bragg Knott) who we believe will both be factors during their careers. We are excited about getting them on the field and seeing what they can do."
Highlighting the talented group of freshman wide receivers are Zsan Robinson (Rockledge, Fla.), Toris Rutledge (Reddick, Fla.), Martin Teal (St. Petersburg, Fla.), James Earl Cray (Hazlehurst, Ga.) and Frank Taylor (Moulton). Freshman kicker/punter Thomas Olmsted is another first-year player Blakeney mentioned as having the potential to be an important contributor for the Trojans this fall.
Three signees did not report, as expected. They included running back Brenton Thomas from Atlanta, all-purpose back Derron Tagger from Prattville and wide receiver Larry Brackins from Dothan. Thomas and Tagger will both enroll in junior college, while Brackins has not yet decided on his future.
The group will participate in an orientation session on Monday before beginning practice on Tuesday. Varsity players report on Tuesday, with the first full-squad practice scheduled for Thursday morning at 7:45 a.m.