Will Anderson Jr. defeats Bryce Young in historic, wet A-Day

A Day

By WVUA 23 Digital Reporter Hunter De Siver

Throughout the week, hundreds of thousands of Tuscaloosa residents stared at the weather app on their phones, praying a tide of rain wouldn’t roll onto the bleachers of Bryant-Denny Stadium Saturday.

The morning of, all events are still on. Rain jackets are knotted on waists as fans waltz around the quad.

A sea of red forms around the giant clock, but the wave is calm. Everyone’s waiting for a sound. Cheerleaders, Crimsonettes and the Million Dollar Band are all on standby.

More time goes by, until Big Al rides across the President’s Mansion lawn on a golf cart with a “script A” flag dancing in the wind. All of sudden, the Million Dollar Band breaks the silence with “Yea Alabama!”.

Phones shoot to the sky, video cameras engaged. Finally, A-Day festivities were all systems go. It was 11:45 a.m., over two hours before kickoff.

After 15 minutes of music and celebration, a blue-suited Nick Saban followed by four of his players walked towards the microphone. It was time for one of the best traditions in all of sports: the Walk of Fame Ceremony.

The four players are/were captains of the most prestigious college football program in the United States. Phidarian Mathis, Evan Neal, Will Anderson Jr. and Bryce Young, alongside coach Saban gave speeches to thank the sea of red for supporting them throughout their Crimson Tide journey.

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. But what about a hand and footprint? These four legends headed towards the four cement squares with their names on each.

They were all given a single cleat in an orange Nike box. They each stomped in their cleats and sunk until the swoosh was no longer visible. A handprint was done in a similar fashion.

With a simple dip of the hand and foot, these four blocks of cement now lived near every other captain in the history of Alabama football.

The sea of red parted and migrated towards Bryant-Denny Stadium. While some went to the front of the stadium, plenty of others headed towards the outside of gate one.

At Gate 1, UA honored John Mitchell and Wilbur Jackson, Alabama’s first Black football players (1971). Jackson was the first Black football player to receive a scholarship from UA and Mitchell transferred to Alabama and became the first Black player to see playing time.

The two trailblazers were honored with a plaque that will stand on the front-right pillar of BDS for a very long time. Rain began to pour down the eyes of the crowd during Mitchell’s speech after the unveiling.

After the legendary dedication, thousands of fans turned their heads a full 180 degrees. All eyes were now looking for buses.

At 12:53 p.m., four residential buses parked next to the Bryant-Denny Stadium sign.

When the doors opened, dozens of players stepped onto the brick-layered Walk of Champions.   Brick by brick, champion by champion, the two red seas watch as these 20-year-old kids step towards the locker room as they pass by every national champion coach. The noise was the loudest it had been that morning, as it lasted until the last player entered the locker room.

At 1:10 p.m., the two red seas reshuffled and went to the stadium for the main event: the spring game. The A-Day spring exhibition has been running since 1946.

The football team is divided into two new teams: crimson and white. The crimson team is the “A-team offense” and the “B-team defense”. The white team is the “B-team offense” and the “A-team defense”. In other words, Bryce Young vs Will Anderson Jr.

Just under 30 minutes before kickoff, raindrops started falling on thousands of heads. What was the sound of saying “Roll Tide” was now the zipping of rain jackets. Everyone thought that they would finish the game dry, but alas, it was not to be.

A light drizzle splashed over BDS the entire first half. During those first 30 minutes of football, Team White’s kicker Jack Martin hit three field goals. Team White’s quarterback Jalen Milroe connected with receiver Christian Leary for a 52-yard touchdown.

Team White was up 16-0 at the half, mainly on account of their defense. Will Anderson Jr. recovered a fumble on the third play of the game. Defensive back Kristian Story intercepted the Heisman Trophy winner in the first half as well.

The Red Team would get their first and only points of the game after a 75-yard run by standout Georgia Tech transfer running back Jahmyr Gibbs.

Three more field goals by starting kicker Will Reichard and a total of 10 sacks (Dallas Turner (3), Will Anderson Jr. (2), Jamil Burroughs (2), Chris Braswell (2) and Jaylen Moody (1)) by Team White led them to a 25-7 victory.

Alabama kicks off next season against Utah State at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Sept. 3.

Categories: Alabama, College Sports, Sports