Regaining relevance

While Alabama football works hard to regain relevance on the field, the football program has become relevant off the field again thanks to recruiting success and last year’s A-Day game. Reviled at the time, the fan passion is now the gold standard by which every spring game is judged.

Need another example of how the Alabama A-Day 2007 has entered the collective football conscious? Here’s the Reno Gazette-Journal which details Nevada football fans passion for spring, and why fans in college football consider spring important—naturally, there is mention of Alabama.

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Media laughs

If you listen to the Roundtable in Birmingham, then you’ll appreciate this Tide Druid blog entry.

Since we are talking about Roundtables, I’ll post a review of The Roundtable Montgomery soon. Perhaps today, but certainly before the weekend. I took in the Wednesday show, and it was…I’ll save it for the review.

Alabama recruit off All-Star roster

PELHAM—Two-time Class 1A state player of the year JaMychal Green of St. Jude High School has removed himself from the Alabama boys all-star basketball team and is being replaced by Crossville center Mick Hedgepeth.

Hedgepeth reported Tuesday to the Alabama all-star camp here as the squad began preparations for Thursday night’s 18th annual Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic. The boys game will tip off at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Pelham Civic Complex. The girls game will begin at 5 p.m.

Green, a 6-foot-9 senior power forward, was among the 12 Alabama players reporting along with all-star head coach William Brown of St. Jude and assistant coach Homer Davis of R.C. Hatch.

Green, a University of Alabama signee, had accepted invitations to play in the Alabama-Mississippi Classic, the McDonald’s All-America Game and the Michael Jordan Classic, but he learned from college officials Tuesday that he could only play in two post-season all-star games under NCAA rules. Tuesday night he chose to skip the Alabama-Mississippi Classic and play in the two national all-star games instead.

The Alabama All-Star squad quickly replaced Green with Hedgepeth, a strong 6-9 center who has signed with Division I school Belmont University in Nashville. Hedgepeth led Crossville to the Northeast Regional Class 3A finals this season and a 31-3 record while averaging 23.0 points and 12.4 rebounds per game. He had 156 blocked shots on the year and scored 1,915 points in his prep career and also had 1,110 rebounds and 313 blocks. He played in the North-South All-Star Classic in Huntsville last summer during All-Star Sports Week.

Teams are scheduled to practice three times Wednesday and will have one brief shoot around on Thursday. Mississippi’s boys currently hold a 9-8 edge in the series, and Alabama’s girls hold an identical 9-8 edge.

In another Alabama boys roster change made last week, Brandon Crawford of Lee-Montgomery replaced LeFlore’s Nick Williams, a Marquette signee who asked to be removed from the squad due to a leg injury.

Crawford, a 6-foot-6 senior who is unsigned, led the Generals to the Class 6A finals of the Central Region tournament. The forward averaged 24.5 points per game, 8.0 rebounds and 4.6 assists. Crawford is currently considering Alabama A&M, Austin Peay, Marist, Vanderbilt, Miami, Troy, Jacksonville State and Florida A&M.

In girls roster changes last week, Erin “Birdie” Bowens and Ashleigh Jackson, both from Deshler, were added to the Alabama team roster. Bowens replaced Northridge’s Ericka Russell, an Alabama signee who withdrew from the team, and Jackson replaced Eufaula’s Terran Condrey, who had a schedule conflict.

Bowens is a 6-foot forward who averaged 18.6 points and 5.0 rebounds this season while leading the Tigers to the Class 4A state finals. She was named to the All-Region and All-State tournament teams.)

Jackson, a 5-9 guard/forward who played in her fifth straight state finals, averaged 18.2 points per game this season, 8.1 rebounds, 175 assists and 108 steals. Being recruited by several junior colleges, she scored 42 points in the Northwest Regional to earn MVP honors this season.

Assisting boys team coaches Brown and Davis is Administrative coach Jamie Lee of Decatur. Brown guided St. Jude (27-7) to the Class 1A state title–the Pirates second in three years–and Davis guided R.C. Hatch (28-1) to the school’s 10th state crown this season–and the Bobcats’ third in a row.

Leading the Alabama girls are Spring Garden coach Ricky Austin and Midfield coach Reggie Ware. Administrative coach is Brenda Mayes of Muscle Shoals. Austin led Spring Garden to a 36-0 record and the 1A state championship this season while Ware directed Midfield (31-1) to its second straight Class 4A state title.

All players chosen are seniors. The complete squads:

ALABAMA BOYS ALL-STARS: Brandon Crawford, Lee-Montgomery; Wayne Dedrick, Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa; Ralph Eason, Butler; Xavier Gibson, Northview; Ricardo Hall, Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa; Mick Hedgepeth, Crossville; Nicholas Johnson, R.C. Hatch; Ronald Nored, Homewood; Cedric Peebles, Bullock County; Cory Smith, Pleasant Grove; Andrew Steele, John Carroll Catholic; Frankie Sullivan, R.C. Hatch;.

ALABAMA GIRLS ALL-STARS: Paige Anderson, Spring Garden; Jasmine Bendolph, Davidson; Erin Bowens and Ashleigh Jackson, Deshler; Lyndsay Harris, Hoover; Courtney Jones, Midfield; Valerie Jones, Charles Henderson; Cylenthia (CeCe) Kennon, Clay-Chalkville; Meredith Mitchell, Midfield; Jazmine Powers, Austin; DeAngela Sword, Carver-Montgomery; Kiara Young, Lauderdale County.