Newspaper article International New York Times

Disbanded Team's Players Find Fields Open Elsewhere

Newspaper article International New York Times

Disbanded Team's Players Find Fields Open Elsewhere

Article excerpt

About 50 U.A.B. players restarted their careers elsewhere after the university dropped football. One of them, Jordan Howard, leads the nation in rushing.

When the football program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham was shut down and boarded up last December, the issue that preoccupied many people nationally was the cost of major college football and the politics that can surround any decision related to the most popular sport on campus.

Almost unnoticed in the debate among fans, bureaucrats and educators was a robust roster of U.A.B. players who sat in stunned silence when they were told the program was being eliminated.

"We knew what we had; we had ballplayers," tight end Gerald Everett said. "We were building a dream team at U.A.B., and had momentum. When they told us it was shutting down, we sat there in disbelief because it was just a couple of days after we had clinched a bowl berth. It was disappointing we couldn't keep it going."

The players, however, did keep it going. Elsewhere.

About 50 U.A.B. players restarted their careers at other colleges this fall. Many were starters for the Blazers who stepped in to plug holes, lend experience and add depth to their new teams.

Everett, a 6-foot-4 tight end with 4.6 speed in the 40-yard dash, transferred to South Alabama, where he leads the Jaguars with 18 receptions through four games. Safety Bobby Baker and linebacker Alonzo McGee wound up at Georgia State; Baker intercepted two passes and recovered three fumbles in a season-opening loss to Charlotte, and McGee is one of the team's top tacklers.

Other former Blazers are making bigger splashes. Running back Jordan Howard chose Indiana, where he leads the Football Bowl Subdivision in rushing with 675 yards in four games. And Jake Ganus, a 6-2, 237-pound inside linebacker, transferred to Georgia, where he will call the defensive signals for the eighth-ranked Bulldogs (4- 0) when they host No. 13 Alabama (3-1) on Saturday.

"Look around at what guys are doing," Everett said. "You can see now what kind of players we had."

Howard, for example, had any number of midmajor and high-major programs reach out, and he was inspired rather than intimidated by the prospect of stepping up a level into a major conference like the Big Ten. …

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