It is A-Day Week and we at RBR are taking a look at some of the lesser known players who might be flying under the radar and deserve a good long look on Saturday. DoctorWhosOnFirst kicked it off with his excellent profile of Shyheim Carter.
I don’t know about you, but I am a sucker for a good underdog story. That is, unless Sean Astin is involved.
Crimson Tide walk-ons certainly fit that term “underdog”. Many young men walk-on for Alabama every seasons, but rarely do they reach the level of a starter or a major contributor like Michael Nysewander or Will Lowery. Even more rare are former walk-ons who end up with their handprints and footprints in the concrete around Denny Chimes and go on to start 100 games (and counting) in the NFL like Rashad Johnson. But that is the dream.
Could Levi Wallace be the next great story at the Capstone? Well, maybe not a great story to be profiled on 30 for 30. But it is a good story.
Wallace started his playing days at Tucson Magnet HS in Tucson, AZ. As a member of the Class of 2014, he had no FBS offers and made his way to Tuscaloosa as a walk-on.
Through hard work and determination, Wallace (#39) was rewarded at the conclusion of fall camp with a scholarship. The defensive back reciprocated the recognition with competent depth at cornerback and an excellent season as a special teams player. He finished the 2016 campaign with seven solo stops and four assists. He also had two pass-break ups and one QB hurry. Wallace is clearly a Nick Saban favorite as he was named special teams player of the week against Mississippi State.
Although the Tide is stacked with immense talent in the secondary, many of them are young and still learning the intricacies of the Alabama defense. Wallace seems to have a good grasp on it.
In 2017, he should again lead the special team coverage units and has a good shot at seeing significant time in the defensive backfield.
Route running 8/18 pic.twitter.com/lkC1uDpnBU— Cam Stewart (@cstew9) August 19, 2016
One intriguing walk-on is 6’ 8” 251 lbs tight end Cam Stewart (#83). The former San Diego Padres minor league pitcher hung up the baseball cleats to give football a whirl. The 22-year old is starting his second season on campus behind a suddenly deep tight end corps. His Alabama tuition is being paid for by the Padres as part of his rookie contract, so no worries about him counting against the 85-scholly limit.
Another walk-on turned scholarship player to watch is linebacker Jamey Mosley (#16). The redshirt junior turned down a full ride to a few FBS schools to follow in the footsteps of his older brother, C.J. Mosley. He, too, should be a regular contributor on special teams.
Andy Pappanastos (#92) originally signed with Ole Miss as a greyshirt in 2012, joining the Rebs in the spring of 2013. Unfortunately for him after redshirting his freshman year, Ole Miss signed Under Armour All-American Gary Wunderlich who surpassed the Montgomery native on the depth chart.
Joining the Tide last spring as a graduate transfer, Pappanastos saw back-up duty behind Adam Griffith in 2016 connecting 6-of-6 PAT attempts and making his one field goal attempt, a 33 yarder against Chattanooga. He also kicked off twice for 56 and 58 yards.
Pappanastos will be auditioning for a starting job as he will likely do all the placekicking during A-Day. Incoming freshman Joseph Bulovas will not join the team until after the spring season (as a blueshirt player, Bulovas will technically walk-on this fall with “an opportunity to earn a scholarship later”. However, it is very likely he gets that scholly regardless). Punter JK Scott should get a look at kicking off as well.