Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

NATIONAL SIGNING DAY ; Back in Business; Reborn UAB Has Something to Celebrate on This Signing Day

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

NATIONAL SIGNING DAY ; Back in Business; Reborn UAB Has Something to Celebrate on This Signing Day

Article excerpt

The UAB Blazers will have just as much to celebrate today as all the programs collecting five-star recruits and gaudy national rankings. The Blazers are back in the recruiting business, and in a big way.

UAB, which had eliminated football, might end up with a class of up to 45 players by the end of the annual signing day. Coach Bill Clark and his staff are rebuilding almost from scratch.

"These last few weeks are the most important in the history of UAB football, Clark said. "That's easy for me sitting here but just by sheer numbers, you're setting the tone.

Indeed, UAB had more than 20 mid-year signees - not all of them have enrolled - and expects to land another 23 today. The NCAA cleared the Blazers to sign 20 extra players this offseason to help accelerate their return to a level playing field.

In Clark's debut season, UAB eliminated the football program - along with rifle and bowling - in December 2014 after the Blazers were bowl eligible for the first time in a decade. Then an outpouring of financial and emotional support prompted university President Ray Watts to bring all three sports back last June.

Clark's team will take the field again in 2017, led by a number of the players joining the fold this offseason plus others who have returned or stuck it out.

UAB didn't have the big carrot dangled by other programs. There won't be immediate playing time for any of them.

So Clark shared his vision for the Blazers - including improved facilities and possibly a new stadium - and preached patience. It was no easy sell to teenagers eager to play.

"I think there were guys that got it and then there were guys that 100 percent didn't, but they loved making history and having a chance to come in and be a guy that really has a chance to be a starter, Clark said. "The sitting out a year, we've lost a few guys just on that alone.

The biggest name in this signing class is former Notre Dame running back Greg Bryant, who got a chance to start over much like the program. …

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