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Alabama Spring Football 2016: Practice Preview

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It's been a LONG 8½ weeks but it's back!

Hopefully, Tony Brown and Robert Foster will both be big contributors in 2016.
Hopefully, Tony Brown and Robert Foster will both be big contributors in 2016.
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

It is that time of year, folks. Basketball and gymnastics head to the post-season while the men and ladies of the diamond are hitting their strides. Oh yeah. There is also spring football.

In the coming days, Roll Bama Roll will be bringing you coverage of position battles and whatever other news we can squeeze out of Nick Saban.

No official schedule has been released for the 15 allowed practices. Going on the assumption that Saban follows a similar schedule to last year, the tentative schedule could look something like the following:

Friday, March 11 (confirmed)
(Spring Break)
Monday, March 21 (confirmed)
Wednesday, March 23 (confirmed)
Friday, March 25 (confirmed)
Saturday, March 26 Easter weekend
Monday, March 28
Wednesday, March 30
Friday, April 1
Saturday, April 2 (scrimmage)
Monday, April 4
Wednesday, April 6
Friday, April 8
Saturday, April 9 (scrimmage)
Tuesday, April 12
Thursday, April 14
Saturday, April 16 - A-Day, 2pm CT (confirmed)

There are many positions up for grabs including quarterback. Yet, one of the biggest battles may be the roster management. When it comes to scholarship limits, the NCAA considers FBS to be a head count sport, meaning there are no partial scholarships that players can share as in baseball. For football, that count is 85.

SENIORS, NFL, TRANSFERS:

The following list contains Bama players have used up their eligibility, plus two juniors who have entered the NFL Draft, and two fourth-year graduates who have transferred out.

DB Cyrus Jones
DB Geno Matias-Smith
DB Bradley Sylve
DB Jabriel Washington
DL Darren Lake
DL D. J. Pettway
DL Jarran Reed
LB Denzel Devall
LB Dillon Lee
LB Reggie Ragland
OL Ryan Kelly
OL Isaac Luatua
OL Dominick Jackson
QB Jake Coker
RB Kenyan Drake
TE TY Flournoy-Smith
WR Richard Mullaney
RB Derrick Henry early to NFL
DL A'Shawn Robinson early to NFL
WR Chris Black grad-transfer to Mizzou
QB Alec Morris grad-transfer to North Texas

2015 ROSTER:

On Thursday, Alabama released the first version of the spring roster including the early enrollees with number assignments:

2 Jalen Hurts QB FR
16 T.J. Simmons WR FR
19 Shawn Jennings LB FR
70 Charles Baldwin OL JR
73 Jonah Williams OL FR
79 Chris Owens OL FR
87 Miller Forristall TE FR

Below is the full 100-man roster that was released. Experience designation are TR = transfer; SQ = Practice Squad = walk-on; RS = Redshirt; 1L = one varsity letter earned; 2L = two varsity letters earned; 3L = three varsity letters earned; HS = High School.
Note that the Experience category has NOT been updated. There also seem to be a few other unexplained irregularities.

No. Name Pos. Class Exp.
2 Jalen Hurts QB FR HS
3 Calvin Ridley WR SO HS
4 Eddie Jackson DB SR 2L
4 Daylon Charlot WR SO HS
5 Ronnie Clark DB/RB SO RS
6 Laurence Hootie Jones DB JR 1L
6 Blake Barnett QB SO HS
7 Cam Sims WR JR 1L
7 Tony Brown DB JR 1L
8 Robert Foster WR JR 1L
9 Da'Shawn Hand DL JR 1L
9 Bo Scarbrough RB SO HS
10 Reuben Foster LB SR 2L
11 Kendall Sheffield DB SO HS
12 David Cornwell QB SO RS
13 ArDarius Stewart WR JR 1L
15 JK Scott P JR 1L
15 Ronnie Harrison DB SO HS
16 Jamey Mosley LB SO RS
16 T.J. Simmons WR FR HS
17 Adonis Thomas LB SO HS
18 Cooper Bateman QB JR 1L
18 Keaton Anderson LB SO HS
19 Shawn Jennings LB FR HS
20 Shaun Dion Hamilton LB JR 1L
21 Maurice Smith DB SR 2L
22 Ryan Anderson LB SR 2L
23 Deionte Thompson DB SO HS
26 Marlon Humphrey DB SO RS
27 Shawn Burgess-Becker DB SO HS
28 Anthony Averett DB JR 1L
29 Minkah Fitzpatrick DB SO HS
31 Nate Staskelunas DB SR SQ
31 Xavian Marks RB SO HS
32 Rashaan Evans LB JR 1L
33 Derrick Gore RB JR TR
33 Anfernee Jennings OLB SO HS
34 Damien Harris RB SO HS
35 Thomas Woods WR JR SQ
36 Torin Marks WR SO HS
36 Johnny Dwight DL/TE SO RS
37 Jonathan Rice WR SO HS
37 Donavan Mosley DB SO SQ
38 Austin Johnson WR SO HS
40 Joshua McMillon LB SO HS
41 Blaine Anderson DB SR SQ
41 Parker Bearden WR SO SQ
42 Jacob Parker TE JR SQ
42 Keith Holcombe LB SO RS
43 Lawrence Erekosima RB JR SQ
43 Gussie Busch LB SO RS
44 Levi Wallace DB JR SQ
44 Avery Reid RB SO SQ
45 Cedric Powell DB JR SQ
45 Hunter Bryant TE JR SQ
46 Derrick Garnett LB JR SQ
47 Bo Grant DB SR SQ
47 Josh Pugh WR SO SQ
47 Christian Miller LB SO RS
48 Mekhi Brown LB SO HS
50 Alphonse Taylor OL SR 2L
51 Jake Long DL SR SQ
53 Ryan Parris SN SO SQ
54 Dalvin Tomlinson DL SR 2L
55 Cole Mazza SN SR 2L
56 Tim Williams LB SR 2L
56 Brandon Kennedy OL SO HS
58 Brandon Greene TE SR 2L
59 Dallas Warmack OL SO HS
62 Will Davis OL SR SQ
63 J.C. Hassenauer OL JR 1L
64 Eastwood Thomas OL SO SQ
66 Lester Cotton OL SO HS
67 Josh Casher OL SO RS
69 Joshua Frazier DL JR 1L
70 Charles Baldwin OL JR JC
71 Ross Pierschbacher OL SO RS
72 Richie Petitbon OL SO HS
73 Jonah Williams OL FR HS
74 Cam Robinson OL JR 1L
75 Bradley Bozeman OL JR 1L
77 Matt Womack OL SO HS
78 Korren Kirven OL/DL SR 2L
79 Chris Owens OL FR HS
80 Raheem Falkins WR SR 2L
81 Derek Kief WR SO RS
82 JaMichael Willis WR SR TR
84 Hale Hentges TE SO HS
86 Truett Harris TE SR SQ
87 Miller Forristall TE FR HS
88 O.J. Howard TE SR 2L
89 Armani Purifoye WR JR SQ
91 O.J. Smith DL SO RS
93 Jonathan Allen DL SR 2L
94 Dakota Ball TE/DL SR 1L
94 Da'Ron Payne DL SO HS
96 Gunnar Raborn PK JR 1L
98 Brannon Satterfield P SO SQ
99 Adam Griffith PK SR 2L

Brandon Moore TE SR SQ

It is interesting (and sad) to note that Walker Jones is not on the roster. The reason for his omission is unclear at this time but he has played in only two games in three years on campus, both instances against an FCS team late in the game. Also not listed for whatever reason is greyshirt Christian Bell.

WALK-ONS:

From this 100, we can eliminate the walk-ons to get a better idea who is on scholarship. Walk-ons include anyone with a "SQ" plus a few others.

Count Name Pos. Class Exp.
1 Nate Staskelunas DB SR SQ
2 Thomas Woods WR JR SQ
3 Donavan Mosley DB SO SQ
4 Blaine Anderson DB SR SQ
5 Parker Bearden WR SO SQ
6 Jacob Parker TE JR SQ
7 Lawrence Erekosima RB JR SQ
8 Levi Wallace DB JR SQ
9 Avery Reid RB SO SQ
10 Cedric Powell DB JR SQ
11 Hunter Bryant TE JR SQ
12 Derrick Garnett LB JR SQ
13 Bo Grant DB SR SQ
14 Josh Pugh WR SO SQ
15 Jake Long DL SR SQ
16 Ryan Parris SN SO SQ
17 Will Davis OL SR SQ
18 Eastwood Thomas OL SO SQ
19 Truett Harris TE SR SQ
20 Armani Purifoye WR JR SQ
21 Brannon Satterfield P SO SQ
22 Brandon Moore TE SR SQ
23 Jamey Mosley LB SO SQ
24 Gussie Busch LB SO SQ
25 Torin Marks WR SO SQ
26 Jonathan Rice WR SO SQ
27 Austin Johnson WR SO SQ
28 Gunnar Raborn PK JR 1L
29 Derrick Gore RB JR TR
30 JaMichael Willis WR SR TR

Derrick Gore was brought in last summer as a juco transfer walk-on. To my knowledge, he still retains that status. JaMichael Willis transferred from Southern Miss and walked on. Gunnar Raborn is not on scholarship.

After punching those numbers up on my trusty Casio CA-53W calculator watch, I get:
100 - 30 = 70.

NEW GUYS:

Alabama signed 24 players plus greyshirt Christian Bell to the Class of 2016. The early enrollees are already included above. Thus, we add the fall freshmen to the list:

Count Name Pos. Class Exp.
1 Aaron Robinson ATH FR HS
2 B.J. Emmons RB FR HS
3 Ben Davis LB FR HS
4 Deonte Brown OL FR HS
5 Irvin Smith TE FR HS
6 Jamar King DE FR JC
7 Jared Mayden DB FR HS
8 Joshua Jacobs RB FR HS
9 Kendell Jones DT FR HS
10 Lyndell Wilson LB FR HS
11 Nigel Knott DB FR HS
12 Quinnen Williams DT FR HS
13 Raekwon Davis DT FR HS
14 Scott Lashley OL FR HS
15 Shyheim Carter ATH FR HS
16 Terrell Hall DE FR HS
17 Trevon Diggs WR FR HS

The Tide also added grad-transfer wide receiver Gehrig Dieter. Back to the wrist:
70 + 17 + Dieter + Bell = 89.
That leaves the Crimson Tide four over the 85-sholarship limit.

WHAT GIVES?

Interestingly, it was believed that the Tide would hold a scholarship for the indecisive/finicky Demetris Robertson who just took an official visit to Tuscaloosa on Feb. 26. Robertson very recently signed financial aid agreements with both Cal and Georgia Tech but not a letter of intent. If by some off-chance he chooses Bama, the roster number goes up one more. However, the inclusion of grad-transfer Gehrig Dieter may have negated that slot, making his visit a moot point. If that is not enough for you, New Orleans defensive end Sci Martin is still undecided. He is scheduled to sign Monday. Although he has LSU, TCU, and Alabama among his finalists, don't expect him to put the crimson hat that he bought at a gas station on his head.

Also of note, it was feared that incoming freshman running back B.J. Emmons might have some trouble qualifying. However, sources have said this week that he is in the clear as long as he maintains his current GPA. There is still the matter of getting through the NCAA Clearinghouse but the situation is looking good. There was some talk early in the recruiting period about Trevon Diggs having academic issues as well but there has been no mention in several months. It appears that all 25 members of the Class of 2016 will qualify.

So how will Bama make this work?

ATTRITION:

  • Transfer - For some players, spring is a tryout. For those who have been through a couple of seasons and see themselves getting passed on the depth chart by freshmen, the writing is on the wall. The choices are continue to ride the pine for the next couple of years or transfer somewhere to get playing time. (Let the speculation begin.) Just to dispel one myth: Saban does not run guys off against their will. Exhibit #1 is offensive guard Isaac Luatua who just finished burning up a scholarship for his FIFTH season on campus without playing a single significant down of football.
  • Medical - Despite the one-sided reporting from the Wall Street Journal and a certain cowardly website that I will not link, medical scholarships are a real thing. With all the lawsuits that are going around these days, a school cannot be too careful. The only candidate I can think of for this option could be wide receiver Robert Foster who suffered a torn rotator cuff during the Tide's loss to Ole Miss last season. It has been awful quiet regarding his condition. Add in this Tweet from Blake Barnett about changing his jersey number to #8, formerly worn by Foster, and it may make you wonder. The released roster still lists Foster as #8 and Barnett as #6. We should find out later today if Foster is participating in practice.
  • Dismissal - I don't mean to sound like a homer but there do not seem to be any bad eggs on this team. Former starting cornerback Tony Brown has found himself in the doghouse as of late but the staff loves his potential and he has not had any trouble with the law. Academics could be another reason for a player to be released but the University takes great pride in that side of athletics and takes great lengths to see that nobody falls behind.
  • Tin Foil Hat - One crazy theory is that some player(s) could possibly be paying their own way and not counting against the 85 limit. But who knows?

Hopefully, some of these questions will be answered in today's practice.

An official updated spring roster should be released sometime later in the month but it will not include the incoming freshmen who have yet to enroll.