TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — For Chance Warmack, the idea of enrolling a semester early wasn’t a snap judgment or a last-minute decision.
He had been planning on it since 10th grade.
In a growing trend that saw more than 100 players from this year’s recruiting class enroll one semester early across the nation, Warmack (an offensive lineman from Atlanta), along with offensive lineman James Carpenter (Augusta, Ga.), defensive lineman Kerry Murphy (Hoover, Ala.) and running back Jermaine Preyear (Mobile, Ala.) got a jump start on their fellow Class of 2009 signees and came to Tuscaloosa for classes in January.
“I think that it’s a very positive thing if a guy puts himself in that position in terms of the ability to go through the offseason program,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “It helps them be more prepared for what we expect of them physically with regard to conditioning and strength. It starts the development process earlier for them.”
In the case of Warmack, he graduated from Atlanta’s Westlake High in December and enrolled in classes at Alabama in January, but Carpenter, Murphy and Preyear took different routes.
Carpenter finished his schoolwork early at Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College after committing to the Tide on Nov. 29. Murphy was supposed to be a member of the Class of 2007 but failed to qualify academically. After a year at Hargrave (Va.) Military Academy he tried again in 2008 but failed once more before finally becoming eligible this year.
Preyear was signed as a member of the Class of 2008 but withdrew before the fall semester started and grayshirted due to a pre-existing shoulder injury. Because he withdrew, his eligibility didn’t start, so he counts toward the 2009 class instead of the 2008 class.
“We’re looking forward to seeing what those guys can do,” Saban said. “Obviously, we have questions to answer in the offensive line, so having two of those guys in the offensive line, we’ll learn as much about them as guys at the quarterback position.”
Carpenter figures to compete heavily for the left tackle spot vacated by Andre Smith, while Warmack could slide into the right guard position formerly held by Marlon Davis, who starred at Carver.
“(Those guys are) leaps- and-bounds ahead of everybody else,” offensive lineman Mike Johnson said. “They’ve been watching film. We’ve been pushing them, trying to work with them, telling them what kind of calls we make, what we expect out of them and what we expect as an offensive line.”
The 6-foot-5, 325-pound Murphy will add another huge body to the middle of the Tide’s defensive line, while Preyear will add depth to the Tide’s stable of running backs.
“We want every player to feel like they can compete for a position,” Saban said. “Just because a guy started last year or played a lot last year doesn’t mean that they’re entitled to a position. Every player has to be productive and every player can improve.”