Alabama players give back to the community with 18 for 18 project
Brian Robinson Jr. put on a hard hat, Phidarian Mathis donned overalls and work boots, and Nick Saban wore a smile from ear to ear. Before opening camp next week, the Alabama football team made time for a little community service work Tuesday afternoon as it teamed up with Habitat for Humanity for the 18 for 18 Project which will build a new home in the Tuscaloosa, Ala. community.
Alabama’s partnership with Habitat for Humanity dates back to the April 27, 2011 tornado. Since then, the Nick’s Kids Foundation has built 18 homes to equal the Crimson Tide's 18 national titles. The latest house comes after the Crimson Tide capped off a perfect 14-0 season with a victory over Ohio State in the national championship game in January. This year’s house was presented to Joselyn Hamner, a mother of two who works in the University of Environmental Services on the front lines of the pandemic.
“We sort of do this because I guess it’s the rent pay on earth,” Saban said. “How do we serve other people? A lot of people support the University of Alabama. A lot of people support the program. This is one way that we give back to support the community.
“It’s also something that we use — as you see players here today — for them to learn the importance of giving back to the community through community service through how you help and serve other people.”
Braving the 91-degree Tuscaloosa heat, Saban and 12 Alabama players took part in various tasks including shoveling gravel and cutting wood with a power saw. Players in attendance included Jordan Battle, D.J. Dale, Shane Lee, Phidarian Mathis, John Metchie III, Evan Neal, Chris Owens, Kendall Randolph, Brain Robinson Jr., Major Tennison, Henry To’o To’o and Daniel Wright. All participants volunteered on their own.
"It’s a little more personal for me because I’m from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, so I’ve seen all these same houses and spent time in these areas,” said Robinson, who played his high school ball at Hillcrest before joining the Tide. “It feels good to be back out here and help build a house in the same community that I grew up in.”
Robinson also noted that the community work serves as a great time for players to bond heading into fall camp. The senior running back proudly donned a helmet with the word "Goat" on it, standing for greatest of all time.
“I’ve been asking for a hard hat since I’ve got here,” he said with a smile. “I finally found the one that I was looking for.”
While Robinson showed off his new headwear, the real fashion statement came from defensive tackle Phidarian Mathis, who showed up in unbuttoned overalls and work boots.
“Phil’s a country boy,” Robinson explained. “He’s got on the boots and the overalls. He’ll wear that stuff on a regular day.”
Alabama is set to open up its fall camp on Aug. 6. From there the Tide will take part in 23 practices and two closed scrimmages as it prepares for its season opener against Miami on Sept. 4 inside of Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium.