TUSCALOOSA | Carson Tinker didn't quite know what to think when he was summoned to Nick Saban's office on Monday. The University of Alabama's long snapper admitted the feeling can be akin to a trip to the principal's office, and wondered what he might have done wrong.
Turns out, absolutely nothing.
Tinker, a walk-on to this point in his career, was awarded a scholarship by the Crimson Tide's head coach.
"You really have to earn it, so it's an honor. I'm very thankful," Tinker said. "It's an answered prayer, honestly. I'm very thankful."
Scholarships are tough to come by for walk-ons at the major college football level. Former UA linebacker Darren Mustin got one in 2007, and specialists Leigh Tiffin and P.J. Fitzgerald later earned one as well. Tinker is well aware he is in rare company.
Tinker's first call, naturally, was to his parents.
"They were fired up. It's a big relief on them. They can kind of focus on things financially that they've been wanting to focus on," he said. "They've been paying out-of-state tuition. I recently got in-state, but I'm happy for them because they can take care of some of the stuff they've been wanting to take care of."
Tinker, a senior this fall, has been among Alabama's most active players in community service since the April 27, 2011 tornado in Tuscaloosa. Saban made note of that in announcing the decision.
"He's certainly been a leader in the community and done a tremendous amount of community service," Saban said. "... We're very excited that we're able to award a guy that has been such a positive influence in so many ways - personally, academically and athletically in our program."
Tinker was the UA player most affected by the storm. His girlfriend, Ashley Harrison, was among the casualties.
"I'm happy for him. The guy has worked hard," quarterback AJ McCarron said of Tinker's scholarship. "Carson has been through a lot and he's bounced back really well from everything he's been through and all that life's thrown at him, all the adversity."
New faces join team
With fall classes beginning, the NCAA allows rosters to expand beyond 105 players, which means an extended group of walk-ons will join the team Wednesday. Roughly 20 known as "preferred" walk-ons participated in fall camp.
"We have quite a few guys that have been in the program before and done a good job for us that we couldn't have in the 105 that we'll actually bring back now, and there's a few freshmen that haven't been in the program that we decided, based on their background in high school, that they would be good additions to the team, as well," Saban said. "It does help our numbers, it does help our preparation, it does help our scout teams to have more players out there."
"I'm really not looking forward to that bill the (Thursday) night before the game when I take them out to eat. It's going to be painful. ... I'm just glad we don't have a Ruth's Chris around here." - McCarron on the tradition of UA quarterbacks picking up a dinner check for the entire offensive line.
"He's got speed. He can hide in between holes. He's so small, you cant really tell where he's at. ... You can tell where I'm at. I can't hide." - 245-pound running back Jalston Fowler on UA's smallest running back, Dee Hart.
Running back Eddie Lacy, wide receiver Amari Cooper and center Ryan Kelly continue to be day-to-day with minor injuries. Saban said they could be out up to a week from the time they were injured, which would allow for their return to practice for Michigan game week, though Saban said "It's not an exact science." ... With the start of fall classes, UA's daily practices move to 3:30 p.m. this week. The team has completed fall camp and will begin preparations for a Sept. 1 game against Michigan in the latter part of this week.
Reach Chase Goodbread at email@example.com or at 205-722-0196.