University of Alabama

Alabama football: Players report today, practices start Thursday

Summer ends today at the Alabama football complex.

Two weeks before classes start in Tuscaloosa, players officially report for preseason practice today. It’s more of a formality since most players, including incoming freshmen have been on campus all summer participating in voluntary workouts.

The first official practice begins at 10:30 a.m. Thursday with a session for the veterans. The newcomers get their first taste of a college practice later in the day at 8:30 as part of the five-day acclamation period required by the NCAA.

In those five days, teams are prohibited from holding two-a-days with everyone participating and only shoulder pads and helmets are to be worn on the first two days.

Players will hit the practice field again Friday and Saturday at 3:30.

The team will be in full pads by Sunday when the program holds its annual fan day. Gates open an hour before the 3:30 p.m. practice at Bryant-Denny Stadium for the only in-person look fans will get at the team before the Sept. 4 opener with San Jose State.

On television is another story. The program is giving ESPNU cameras “unprecedented access into the inner workings” of the operation for a one-hour special “Alabama All-Access” set to air at 7 p.m. August 18, according to a news release issued by the network Tuesday.

Like last season, there are eligibility questions clouding the open of practice in Tuscaloosa. There is still no word on the status of defensive end Marcell Dareus, as the school and NCAA investigates a trip he allegedly took to an agent’s party in Miami.

Last year, it was Mark Ingram and Julio Jones who had to sweat it out for days before the season’s first game until they were cleared. There is no known timetable for a decision in Dareus’ case.

The opening of practice will be especially important for the Crimson Tide special teamers. True freshman Jay Williams will get his first shot to prove himself in the battle to replace P.J. Fitzgerald, who didn’t have much competition in spring practice.

The first day off from practice comes Sunday, Aug. 15 after a week with a pair of two-a-days set for Tuesday and Thursday. The third and final two-practice day comes the next Monday, Aug. 16.