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January 19, 2012

UA announces early enrollers

TUSCALOOSA | Eight newcomers to the University of Alabama football team have enrolled at UA and will participate in spring drills, the school announced Thursday.

Wide receivers Chris Black and Amari Cooper, running back T.J. Yeldon, linebackers Dillion Lee and Ryan Anderson, defensive backs Deion Belue and Travell Dixon and defensive lineman Alphonse Taylor make up the Crimson Tide's mid-term enrollers.

"I'm real excited," Black told Tidesports.com last week before starting classes. "It's another step to reach my dreams. I just want to get up there, work hard, see where everything is at and try to compete for a starting position."

Black pulled in 1,871 receiving yards over his last two seasons at Jacksonville (Fla.) First Coast High, leading the Bucanners to a state finals appearance as a senior. Cooper stood out in the Under-Armour All-America game with a 75-yard touchdown reception and a 93-yard punt return for another score. At the wide receiver position, Alabama is losing three fifth-year seniors (Marquis Maze, Darius Hanks, Brandon Gibson), while the status of two others who are suspended -- Michael Bowman and Ronald Carswell -- remains uncertain.

Yeldon is the most heralded recruit of the group, a Rivals.com five-star prospect who switched his commitment from Auburn at Alabama in December. Yeldon, of Daphne, rushed for 2,193 yards with 31 touchdowns as a senior last fall.

"T.J. has a great opportunity to come in there and play and get those second and third carries that Eddie (Lacy) and Jalston (Fowler) got this year," Daphne assistant coach Mike Vickery said.

Anderson is expected to compete at the Jack linebacker position vacated by graduating senior Courtney Upshaw. Dixon and Belue also play at positions where UA is losing starters. Both junior college transfers, the two could provide much-needed depth at the cornerback position, where Alabama lost Dre Kirkpatrick and DeQuan Menzie.

A quick look at each newcomer:

Ryan Anderson
Position: Linebacker
Hometown: Daphne, Ala.
High School: Daphne High School
Quick note: Anderson played multiple positions as a senior, finishing with 104 tackles, 32 for a loss and 12.5 sacks.

Deion Belue
Position: Defensive back
Hometown: Tuscumbia, Ala.
Junior College: Northwest Mississippi Community College
Quick note: Belue committed to Alabama out of high school in 2010.

Chris Black
Position: Wide receiver
Hometown: Jacksonville, Fla.
High School: First Coast High School
Quick note: Black plans to wear No. 1 when he gets to Alabama.

Amari Cooper
Position: Wide receiver
Hometown: Miami, Fla.
High School: Miami Northwestern High School
Quick note: Cooper's teammate Artie Burns, a 2013 prospect, is also committed to Alabama.

Travell Dixon
Position: Defensive back
Hometown: Miami, Fla.
Junior College: Eastern Arizona Junior College
Quick note: Dixon is ranked No. 3 overall in the final JUCO Top 50 rankings.

Dillon Lee
Position: Linebacker
Hometown: Buford, Ga.
High School: Buford High School
Quick note: Lee's teammate, tight end Kurt Freitag, is also committed to Alabama and will enroll over the summer.

Alphonse Taylor
Position: Defensive tackle
Hometown: Mobile, Ala.
High School: Davidson High School
Quick note: Taylor switched his commitment from Florida State to Alabama on Dec. 23.

T.J. Yeldon
Position: Running back
Hometown: Daphne, Ala.
High School: Daphne High School
Quick note: Yeldon finished with 52 total yards in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

Reach Chase Goodbread at chase.goodbread@tuscaloosanews.com.

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