Get ready to hear plenty of moans and complaints, folks. When the words “Nick Saban” and “grayshirt” are mentioned in the same sentence, messageboards explode with angry accusations and just-as-angry defenses.
According to TideSports.com, Alabama’s coach has asked injured offensive line commitment Bradley Bozeman of Roanoke, Alabama to take a grayshirt and join the Tide football team next year. That’s a January of 2014 enrollment rather than a 2013 enrollment. The 4-star prospect committed to Alabama in June, but he’s currently rehabbing from an ACL injury.
So is Saban exploiting a teenager’s injury in order to skirt the SEC’s 25-man “soft” signing cap? Not according to Bozeman:
“Coach Saban switched my scholarship to a grayshirt. I have known about it for about two months. We have been keeping it on the down low. We didn’t know for sure if that was going to be the option. It was due to the ACL injury. It will give me more time to get stronger…
Honestly, I think it’s the best decision for me. I trust in the coaches. They are going to make the right decision. They won three out of the four national championships. I am going to honor my commitment. I am staying with them…
We are six to eight weeks ahead of schedule (in his recovery). I squatted 400 pounds recently. We are trying to be smart about it though. The doctors told me I will be back to 100% by April. They said I have probably been one of the best recoveries they have seen.”
You might remember that Saban and Alabama were mixed up in two ugly grayshirt stories that made national news last year. Bama asked a Georgia running back named Justin Taylor to take a grayshirt just weeks before signing day. He wound up signing with Kentucky instead. Then an Alabama defensive line prospect named Darius Philon was asked to grayshirt a week before signing day (according to a teammate). Though he put on an Alabama ball cap at his school’s signing day event, Philon wound up inking with Arkansas instead.
Taylor had been an Alabama commitment for a year. Philon had been committed to the Crimson Tide for more than five months.
In Bozeman’s case, Saban at least gave the player a heads-up to the situation well in advance of signing day, though Bama coaches didn’t give him the final word until his visit to Tuscaloosa this weekend.
For those unfamiliar with the process, a grayshirted player signs his letter of intent in February only to delay his enrollment until the following year. He does not report in the fall with other February signees. The eligibility for a grayshirted player does not begin until he enrolls as a full-time student the following year.
Now that he’s the latest Alabama grayshirt to make news, all eyes will be on Bozeman to see if he does ink with Alabama… if he changes his mind as Taylor and Philon did… and if he indeed winds up a member of Saban’s football team this time next year.