News from the Tennessee Valley Sports

College Football Notebook


BIRMINGHAM — As UAB attempts to rebuild after last year’s 3-9 season, first-year head coach Neil Callaway has started a youth movement on the offensive line.

Callaway said Saturday that true freshman Caleb Thomas of Decatur is scheduled to start at right guard when UAB plays at Michigan State on Saturday at 11 p.m. ESPN2 will carry the television broadcast.

Thomas graduated from Decatur High and was honorable mention all-state as a senior last season.

Another true freshman, Matt McCants, is slated to start at left tackle. Two redshirt freshmen, left guard Adam Hollifield and tight end Jeffrey Anderson, could start as well against Michigan State.

Meanwhile, on the defensive line, R.A. Hubbard graduate LaDarrius Stanley is listed as second team at nose guard. Stanley played tight end last season where he was a part-time starter.

On Saturday, UAB had a short, but tough and physical practice. Callaway said the 17-period practice featured a lot of competition on both sides of the ball.

“We had a lot of competition and lot of good work today,” Callaway said. “We had a short physical practice and it went well.”

The Blazers will have meetings Sunday, but will not practice. The team has Monday off, and will return to the practice field Tuesday. Callaway said the move to give the team two consecutive days off from practice, a week prior to the opener, is for two reasons.

“We need to get into our game routine,” he said. “Normally, we wouldn’t have Sundays off, but I want to make sure they are good and fresh headed into this week.”

The Blazers spent the morning serving breakfast to approximately 400 fans who attended UAB’s annual preseason football Fan Day. Breakfast was served by Callaway and his staff, along with senior players. Afterward, fans were treated to an autograph and photo session with the team.


An injury to one player is an opportunity for another, and in the case of Alabama’s Lorenzo Washington, starting nose tackle Brian Motley’s hand surgery may have opened the door for Washington.

“He’s getting more reps,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “Do you look at it as an opportunity to start and to do good, or are you just struggling to get by? I’m not saying it’s either way, but when you have an opportunity like that, you should have a positive attitude about taking advantage of it.”

A highly touted recruit in 2004 coming out of Logansville, Ga., the 6-foot-4, 283-pound Washington spent a year at Hargrave Military Academy. Then upon his arrival in Tuscaloosa in 2005, he was redshirted.

Last season as a freshman, he played just 29 snaps and missed spring practice after having shoulder surgery.

But Washington may see playing time this year.

“I feel like all camp has been an opportunity to step up, and now this is just an opportunity to show that I can put everybody on my back,” Washington said. “It’s an opportunity to show. I’m out to take this spot.”

? There are several buzzwords in Saban’s vocabulary, including “consistency.”

And when Saban talks to his players, it’s not just his words that make an impression. His body language does so as well.

He often uses his hands to further his point, and and when he talks about consistency, he takes it to a whole new level.

“That is the main word we hear. He doesn’t want us to be up or down. He wants us to stay level,” wide receiver DJ Hall said. “If you don’t understand it in his voice, he will show you by hands.”

Daily Sports Writer


AUBURN — For the last two and a half weeks Al Borges’ offense has been doing what he calls the “Ledo Shuffle,” trying to find the best 11 guys to put on the field.

About a week before Auburn’s opener against Kansas State, the offensive coordinator said those 11 are taking shape, which is helping the offense gain continuity.

“Offense is all about getting in sync: running successful plays behind each other,” he said. “When guys start feeling their oats, you get a little synergy. Everything starts working out, but it takes a while, particularly when you’re not playing with the same guys all the time.”

Late last week Auburn’s starting offense began to take shape, but some possible starters are still recovering from injuries.

Guard Leon Hart (ankle) is expected to return in the next day or two. Receiver Montez Billings (hamstring) and fullback Carl Stewart (hamstring) are not quite fully recovered, though they have been practicing in a half-speed role the last couple of days. The two are expected to return to 100 percent soon.

Below is a predicted depth chart for the offense as the team heads into the first game week of the season.

QB, Brandon Cox: Blake Field will play if Cox should go down.

RB, Brad Lester: A host of players will play — Ben Tate, Marion Fannin, Stewart — but Lester will likely start the first game.

FB, Stewart: Because of the uncertainty of his injury, Danny Perry or Tate could start.

TE, Cole Bennett: Once again, a host of players will play — Tommy Trott, Gabe McKenzie — but the senior Bennett should start.

LT, King Dunlap: The only returning starter on the line was never really challenged this fall.

LG, Tyronne Green: The junior was No. 1 at the position after spring and has fought off challengers during fall to keep it.

C, Jason Bosley: True freshman Ryan Pugh may see some playing time here.

RG, Mike Berry: Hart could pose a threat once he recovers from an ankle injury.

RT, Lee Ziemba: Antwoin Daniels will rotate in with the true freshman, who won the starting job last week.

WR, Rod Smith: The junior and former walk-on is being chased by up-and-coming receiver James Swinton.

WR, Robert Dunn: The junior is backed up by Tim Hawthorne.

WR, Rodriguez Smith: A healthy Billings could pose a threat and talented true freshman Chris Slaughter has impressed coaches.

Ross Dellenger,
Daily Sports Writer


GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Freshman Cameron Newton was named Florida’s backup quarterback Saturday, reclaiming the job he earned in the spring and putting himself in position to play this season.

Coach Urban Meyer, who likes to use a change-of-pace quarterback, announced the decision a week before the sixth-ranked and defending national champion Gators open the season against Western Kentucky.

Newton, a highly touted recruit from Georgia, enrolled at Florida in January and stepped into the No. 2 spot behind starter Tim Tebow during spring practice. But a back injury and then academic issues kept him off the field to start fall drills earlier this month.

His absence — Newton missed a week of practice — opened up the position for freshman John Brantley and junior college transfer Bryan Waggener.

Waggener dropped out of the picture this week after having knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus. He will be out at least three more weeks.

Meyer said Brantley still will prepare to contribute if needed.


LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Arkansas defensive end Marcus Harrison was suspended indefinitely after being arrested late Friday night in Fayetteville on a felony drug charge and several misdemeanors.

The 23-year-old senior was driving near his apartment when an officer stopped him just after 11 p.m., according to a Fayetteville police report. The officer reported a strong smell of marijuana coming from the car when Harrison rolled down his window.

The officer asked Harrison to step out of the car. Harrison consented to a search and told the officer he had “just a pill” in a pocket of his cargo shorts, the report said. The officer found a small plastic bag containing one blue Ecstasy pill.

The officer reported finding one partially smoked marijuana cigar under the front seat of the car and another unsmoked cigar. Both tested positive for marijuana, according to the report.

Texas-El Paso

EL PASO, Texas — Two Texas-El Paso players have been reinstated after the district attorney decided not to pursue felony charges against them in connection with a brawl outside a nightclub.

Receiver Tufick Shadrawy and linebacker Brian Wilkins, both 20-year-old sophomores, rejoined the team this week, coach Mike Price said.

District Attorney Jaime Esparza announced Wednesday that he would not pursue felony charges against the players after last month’s brawl in downtown El Paso.

The Associated Press

North Alabama

FLORENCE — The defense dominated early, and the offense put on a show late as the North Alabama football team ran 123 plays without a turnover Saturday in a scrimmage at Braly Stadium.

“The defense really got after it early and only gave up one first down on the first four drives,” said UNA head coach Mark Hudspeth. “As the scrimmage went on, I think we saw that we were not in as good of condition as we need to be, but we still went 123 plays without a turnover and that’s a plus.”

Hudspeth praised the play of running back Tim Hicks, defenders Michael Johnson, Chad Daniels and Bobby Brooks and returner Ed Gant. Gant returned both a kickoff and a punt for touchdowns.

Senior quarterback Dusty Goodwin led the first scoring drive of the team, completing three passes for 55 yards in a 65-yard drive. Junior David McCants capped the drive with a six-yard touchdown run.

Senior Scott Shurden kicked field goals of 41 and 47 yards early. Junior Rocky Coleman had a 29-yard TD catch from Ret Tolleson, freshman Brandenn Pickett had a pair of short touchdown runs and Hicks had a TD run to highlight the offensive effort.

UNA opens its season Sept. 8 at home against Tusculum. From staff reports

Copyright 2005 THE DECATUR DAILY. All rights reserved.
AP contributed to this report.

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