By Shane from Centerpoint
Many young men in the state of Alabama grow up dreaming of playing football for the University of Alabama. There are only a few who actually complete the journey and fulfill their desire to wear the famed â€œcrimson jerseyâ€. However, there are some who are destined to reach that goal and they donâ€™t allow anything to stop them from achieving it.
Washington Countyâ€™s Kyle Pennington is a prime example. His lifelong dream became a reality recently when he took the field and contributed to Alabamaâ€™s victories over North Texas and Arkansas.
Prior to coming to Alabama, Pennington was a standout three-sport athlete at Washington County High School, all while maintaining a 3.5 GPA in the classroom. As a team captain during his senior year (2006) he produced 1400 yards passing, over 400 yards rushing and 25 touchdowns in 11 games while own his way to his third consecutive All-County selection. Kyle also earned an All-State (honorable mention) award that same year.
His exploits on the gridiron and excellence in the classroom brought interest from college recruiters. The Southern Miss Golden Eagles were in hot pursuit and offered Pennington a scholarship, as did several other universities.
While Pennington pondered his future in playing at the next level, something happened that changed everything. While sitting in one of his classrooms at WCHS, he was called to the school office for a phone call.
He soon learned the person calling him was a representative of the University of Alabama letting him know that head coach Nick Saban wanted him to play football for the Crimson Tide as a preferred walk-on.
Pennington made a rare and brave choice to pass on the easy route. While he couldâ€™ve taken the offer from Southern Miss with promises of starting he still had a dream of wearing that crimson jersey. As a result of Sabanâ€™s offer combined with a desire to play for Alabama, Pennington chose to take on the monumental task of competing against some of the best talent in America for a position and playing time. As shown through his time with the Tide, Pennington arose to the challenge and has joined the force of the Crimson Tide during two games this season.
He has proven his value to the team by making the roster three years running. He earned scout team â€œplayer of the weekâ€ six times in 2008 and has been named the same twice already this year.
Scout team players are referred to by many as the backbone of a good program. Football programs that have quality walk-ons are able to better prepare the front-liners for competition because they can match the athleticism of the upcoming opponent.
This year Pennington has taken his efforts to a higher level by gaining enough of Coach Sabanâ€™s attention to earn playing time. Those who know the demands of Nick Saban will understand how hard Kyle has been working to get on the field.
Several experts who study the Crimson Tide and programs like it have noted that Saban continues to be known as a builder of teams with an extraordinary number of tremendous athletes. Therefore, the fact that Pennington has played in Alabamaâ€™s last two games, and will likely contribute in others, is a strong statement in itself. In essence, Kyle must be a very good football player.
Pennington is solid proof that hard work, perseverance, and intelligence can be combined to attain lofty goals. Young people like him offer a sense confidence for the players who follow.
During recent interviews with family members it was said that each time Pennington steps onto the playing field he wears his crimson colors in honor of the many people in Washington County who have supported him during his venture. As a result of their support he wears his number 39 for them.
Two people who have been standing at Penningtonâ€™s side during his trials of the grid-iron have been his mother, Angela and father Carl. The three have a bond that Alabamaâ€™s legendary coach Paul â€œBearâ€ Bryant would have been proud of. Through his efforts and accomplishments Pennington has made his parents and hometown fans proud.
â€”Shane writes a weekly column for the Call News and the Capstone Report.