Now that UAB football is back, will coach Bill Clark re-recruit any of his lost players? And just as important: Will they listen?
Blazers supporter Timothy Alexander thinks so.
“I’ve talked to many teammates,” said Alexander, who has been paralyzed from the waist down since a 2006 car accident. “I know for a fact players would come back if they’re eligible — a minor setback for a major comeback.”
After all, Clark in 2014 coached UAB to its first bowl-eligible season since 2004, earning Conference USA Coach of the Year honors.
On Tuesday, the school announced football will return in 2017 – rifle will also be reinstated in 2015 with coed participation, and bowling in 2016. Overall, the news is expected to increase fundraising dollars that are needed for construction of new football practice facilities and a stadium.
Clark said Tuesday he would welcome the return of former UAB players, but his program must be a good fit for them. After all, the Blazers will sit out of college football games in 2015 and 2016.
“It may work for a few guys still on campus,” Clark said. “It would have to be worthwhile with what they have going on right now, maybe good for a freshman or sophomore.
“(But) if they want to come back to the place where they signed, the people they know, that’s fine.”
Clark, who has coached one season as UAB, is believed to have one new player – Tyler Jones, a 6-foot-5, 290-pound offensive lineman from Albertville High School, committed last Friday. Jones is transferring from Memphis.
South Alabama’s 2015 roster is comprised of eight former Blazers: linebackers Kalen Jackson and John Robinson, quarterbacks Cody Clements and Evan Orth, running back D.J. Vinson, tight end Gerald Everett and offensive lineman Cameron Blankenship and Lee Dufour.
Vinson said some former UAB players might consider a return to Birmingham, “depending on their situation at the other school. … sit back and watch Clark do what he do best: Win.”
Former UAB player Daniel Anousheh, who like his teammates, was forced last December to transfer in order to continue his college football career, estimated that “about 90 percent” of UAB’s 2014 roster of players with remaining eligibility have left the school for other programs, either as a scholarship recipient or as a walk-on.
Another former player, defensive end Chris Rabb, said decisions about a return to Birmingham may be decided, in part, by other ex-Blazers.
“It may be a ‘If you go, I’ll go,’ type-deal,” Rabb said. “I think a lot of guys liked it at UAB. It felt like home. They got used to it. I think if one guy goes back, you might have a couple that goes back.”