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67 Days 'Till Kickoff: The 1967 walkons

In the sweltering Alabama heat of 1967, five black players walked on at the University of Alabama, signaling a beginning of the end to segregation in football and on the campus.

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1967 is one of the most quietly important ones in Alabama football history.

Coming off of an uncrowned, undefeated 1966 season, which saw the Tide punished for the sins of the state's racial iniquities, the post-Missing Ring era began. With it would bring five black players, forbidden from being scholarship athletes, who would instead walk-on under Bear Bryant and try to break the pernicious system of de jure segregation.

As Kleph wrote back in 2012 (and you should really read this again, BTW):

The 1967 Walk-ons: The Forgotten Pioneers of Alabama Football's Integration - Roll 'Bama Roll

[Dock] Rone would not be alone in his attempt. Four other black students joined him when he reported for the Tide's first spring practice on April 1, 1967; Arthur Dunning from Mobile, Melvin Leverett from Prichard, Andrew Pernell from Bessemer and Jerome Tucker from Birmingham.

Until now, the presence of these five African-American athletes on the Alabama practice field has been seen as an outlier in the story of the integration of the football team. The narrative instead focuses on the offering the scholarship to basketball player Wendell Hudson in 1969, football player Wilbur Jackson in 1970 and the 1971 Alabama vs USC game that saw John Mitchell take the field and, at long last, cross the Crimson Tide's varsity football color line.

I have nothing but respect for the bravery and tenacity of these five young men and the quiet impact they made in the decade-long desegregation story at the University of Alabama.

67 days 'till kickoff. Roll Tide.