TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The answer to who would fill the 105th and final roster spot was answered at Thursday night’s practice for Alabama football newcomers.
Freshman Blake Sims got the green light to participate by the NCAA Clearinghouse, meaning Deion Belue would not be with the team this season. NCAA rules allow for 105 players to participate in the preseason practice.
Sims, a Gainesville, Ga., product, was on the practice field under the lights Thursday, working with the talented group of freshman defensive backs. Returning players practiced at 9:30 a.m.
Belue, also a defensive back, had not qualified academically as of Wednesday, and attempts to update his status Thursday were unsuccessful. Tide coach Nick Saban said Belue’s academic issues “may or may not get resolved.”
Saban said in Wednesday’s news conference that 104 of the 105 roster spots were filled, so the status of Belue and Sims still was unclear.
Sims’ father, Sonny Sims, told The Birmingham News that Blake took two classes at a Mississippi junior college to reach NCAA requirements.
Eligibility intact, Sims joined the other members of the top recruiting class stacked with talent in the secondary.
Earlier in the day, Dequan Menzie (Carver High) was the only new face participating in the morning workout. The junior college transfer and cornerback took reps with the group of returning defensive backs that included the other top candidate for a starting cornerback job,
Dre Kirkpatrick and LSU transfer Phelon Jones also worked at cornerback in spring practice, along with true freshman early enrollee DeMarcus Milliner and sophomore B.J. Scott.
Having two practices meant extra work for all players.
There simply weren’t enough bodies in either session for players to get the kind of rest they are used to getting.
“We only had nine linemen in practice, and we’ll only have nine in the afternoon,” starting center William Vlachos said. “So there are a lot of people shuffling around. There are a lot of guys playing 1s, 2s, guard, tackle, center.”