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UWA reports for its first fall football practice

LIVINGSTON – It is that time of year again, time for football in Livingston. The University of West Alabama Tigers reported on Friday eager and ready to get things underway, with Samford looming in the horizon just 22 days away. Head Coach Sam McCorkle is prepared to start his second tour of duty at the helm, and could not be any more optimistic as summer practice gets underway.

“Report day is always exciting,” said McCorkle. “It is good to see the players again, especially the ones that you have not seen for a couple of months. The coaching staff could not be more excited. We are tired of preliminaries and really looking forward to getting on the field.”

The Tigers return 15 starters and 43 letter winners (22 offense, 18 defense and 3 specialty) in 2004. On offense, West Alabama returns its top two leading receivers from last season, as well as its leading rusher. Will Harter returns as a senior, following a junior campaign that saw him lead the team with 48 catches for 687 yards.

Senior Laramie Cook also returns after hauling in 43 receptions for 644 yards and a team-high five scores in 2003. Senior running back Derick Spellers is also back, following a season that saw him lead all rushers with 563 yards on 117 carries (the highest total by a Tiger since Phillip Keef ran for 606 yards in 1999).

On defense, senior defensive end Ben Neal headlines the returners after a junior season that saw him lead the team and finish second in the GSC in sacks (10) and tackles for a loss (17.5) on his way to earning Second Team All-GSC honors. The Newnan, Ga., native was also selected to the Preseason All-GSC Team. Also returning for UWA is senior Zeb Ellison. As a junior, Ellison led all Tiger defenders with 79 tackles, including eight for a loss and one interception.

West Alabama opens its practice schedule on Saturday morning at 12:01 a.m., with the first day in full pads scheduled for Wednesday, Aug. 11. The Tigers have two big scrimmages planned, the first one to be played on Sunday, Aug. 15.

“Our coaches have been working very hard in preparation for preseason camp,” closed McCorkle. “They have been planning everything from practice times to meals to curfew. Our coaching staff would also like to thank Bragg Lawrence and Lawrence Lavender for providing our first meal, a steak dinner planned for Friday evening.”