December 4, 2016
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Christopher Walsh has been a sports writer and author since 1990, and his 24 books have been on a variety of teams and subjects including Nick Saban, the Southeastern Conference, Alabama, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Texas in college football, the Cowboys, Giants, Packers and Steelers in the National Football League, and the Cubs, Mets and Red Sox in Major League Baseball.
Honors include the First Amendment Award (formerly Freedom of Information Award) by the Associated Press Managing Editors, the game story, column and enterprise story of the year from the Football Writers Association of America, two Herby Kirby Memorial Awards (the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s highest honor), and two Pulitzer Prize nominations.
Previous beats include the SEC, Alabama and Arizona State in collegiate sports, the NFL's Buccaneers, Cardinals and Packers, and MLB's Diamondbacks. Originally from Minnesota and a graduate of the University of New Hampshire, he currently resides in Tuscaloosa.
Hi Christopher, how do you respond to the arguments for the other side of the satellite ban, like students who can't afford unofficial visits getting exposure that they wouldn't otherwise get?
Chris, I read your article, and while I agree that Alabama has had a plethora of great linebackers, first round picks, etc., I still look at tackle leaders in the NFL and the pro bowl and you can't deny that Penn State linebackers have had a bigger impact. 3 in the top 6 and Hali as a hybrid linebacker/DE. C'mon man.
Thought I would share this with you Chris. Wrote it after the Western Carolina game last year:
Division I College Football seems to be all about the superstar talent seemingly destined for fame and fortune in the NFL. Coaches make millions performing their jobs in front of millions of fans across the country. Recruited by the best salesmen and developers of talent in the business, high school superstars make their choices to the delight of some fans and the chagrin of others. With notable exceptions, the growth and development of that talent is an unknown. Some go on to superb careers in colleges and universities across the country. Some make it to the NFL and do very well.
Yet another group of very talented football players makes a different choice. They walk on at their dream university. Rather than choosing to be a big fish in smaller pond, they seek to fulfill their childhood hopes and dreams. They are often the unsung heroes of winning programs. They serve as practice squad members for the two-deep rosters full of 5- and 4-star talent. They work just as long and just as hard as anyone on the roster. They go through spring practices and fall camp two-a-days. They participate in off-season conditioning and sacrifice their bodies daily to help prepare their beloved team for the next opponent.
Occasionally we see one or more of these unsung heroes make the game rosters.
Even more rarely, we sometimes see them take on significant roles during the games. One such example unfolded rather dramatically right before our eyes on November 22, 2014. At the University of Alabama homecoming game against the Western Carolina Catamounts. With 1:49 left in the third quarter, RS-Senior Michael Nysewander – a walk on fullback at the University of Alabama, caught a pass from the second string QB Jacob Coker and took it across the goal line for a touchdown. I could not be at the game but I was standing in front of my TV with my family when I watched the play unfold. I saw the ball snapped and watched Mic (as his mother calls him) break across the line of scrimmage and I thought to myself…could it be?... and then Coker turned to him just as Mic broke away from the defender and threw a beautiful pass that Mic caught and then stormed into the end zone.
As the players made the way to the sideline, many greeted #46 and the celebration was truly exciting. I could not contain my delight. My family was like… “chill dad, you don’t even know him”. You see, I don’t know Mic personally. I don’t know his father. I know his mother and her sister Diane. We went to elementary and high school (Berry - aka Hoover high School) together. Even so I felt like I knew him.
Michael left Hoover High School with a 6A state championship ring. He came to Alabama as an invited walk on. Michael has another year of eligibility and has some decisions to make at the end of this year. Either way he will leave Alabama as a part of at least two National Championships (That number could change as this season has yet to fully unfold). His dream is to coach at the college or pro level and given all he has accomplished thus far there is little doubt about that outcome as well. So watching #46 made me think about all the young men who like Michael Nysewander, sacrifice it all to chase their dreams. They help the teams we cheer for on Saturdays. They choose to serve. Some like #46 get to experience that moment when it all comes together. For all the other #46’s out there, we salute you. In the words of Rascal Flatts, “may your life become all that you wanted”.
Chris, tremendous article on the BAMA D. I believe your quote on Nick Saban concerning the defensive sums up my opinion. The Secondary, in my opinion, will stack up well against the HUNH teams. The LB's and D Line most likely will aid the entire defensive by making the overall defense seamless. It all comes down to confidence. And BAMA did not have confidence in many games in 2013.
I live in Dothan, AL. Yesterday, one of our local sports radio shows had two former Alabama players in the studio. One of the WOOF radio hosts ask what can Alabama do to stop the spread/HUNH teams, i.e. Auburn. The ex-BAMA standouts said: "you have to recruit toward this new spread strategy". This meaning faster, leaner guys that can play all 4 downs.
BAMA is doing this now with current players such as Jonathan Allen (DE); D.J. Pettway (DE); Da'Shawn Hand (DE); Reuben Foster (LB); Rashaan Evans (LB); Christian Millier (LB); Marlon Humphreys(CB); Tony Brown (CB), etc.
Obviously Saban must come up with personalized game plans for the HUNH teams and individual players, i.e. Auburns Nick Marshall.
Good to see you still writing for something I love and enjoy reading. Looking forward to more. Thanks Chris. BB2One - Jon Atchely