Dec 31, 2014 10:54 AM
'Bama benchwarmer has chance at another ring
The Associated Press
NEW ORLEANS (AP) Remove Alabama receiver Daniel Geddes' crimson No. 37 jersey, and it would be difficult to distinguish him from any other student on campus.
Yet on the Crimson Tide football team he stands out if you can even find his 5-foot-6, 165-pound frame among the hulking players who comprise the bulk of 'Bama's roster.
Geddes, who received his masters in sports management earlier this month, is completing his third season on Alabama's roster and has not played a single down. He has a maximum of two games left, starting with Thursday night's national semifinal in the Sugar Bowl against Ohio State, followed possibly by the national title game in Dallas.
He doesn't expect to play in those, either, but doesn't regret a second spent pushing his limits in the weight room or running himself ragged on the practice field.
At the very least, he'll always be able to say he was yelled at by coach Nick Saban, which he "absolutely" qualifies as an authentic Alabama experience.
The last time he was scolded by Saban, he'd improperly mimicked an upcoming opponent's pass route against the first-team defense.
"It's nothing personal. Everyone can get that any day," he said with a smile as he stood on the Superdome turf during Sugar Bowl media day this week. "I try not to get too sensitive about it because even his assistant coaches get that."
Geddes was born in Germany, the son of military parents, Patrick and Mary, who are both Tuscaloosa natives and avid Crimson Tide fans. They brought up their son on stories about Alabama's glory days under coach Paul "Bear" Bryant.
The family returned to Tuscaloosa when Geddes was 8. He loved Alabama games, which he usually watched on TV.
"Every once in a while we were able to pull off some tickets," Geddes recalled.
In high school he was a backup running back, a defensive back, kicker and punter. He said he might have carried the ball three times for 15 yards as a senior.
He enrolled in Alabama in 2010 and sought to walk on to the football team, but was cut after fall camp. The same in 2011.
Once more, he tried, in 2012. That season he wound up with a national championship ring and memories that formed the basis of a speech he later delivered to the team.
"I remember the excitement flowing through my veins and how blessed I felt to be there" for Alabama's BCS title triumph over Notre Dame in Miami, Geddes recalled telling his teammates. "It's a feeling that you cannot purchase."
Though Geddes is even smaller than kicker Adam Griffith (5-10, 188), some of Alabama's biggest stars haven taken notice of his work ethic. Receiver Amari Cooper, a Heisman Trophy finalist, calls Geddes "an inspiration."
"Just aside from football, he's a great person. I get a chance to talk to him and every time I learn something," Cooper said. "When we run (sprints) and things like that in the offseason, he works really hard, works really hard in the weight room. ... He makes me want to better myself."
Cooper, in turn, works with Geddes on his route-running, from his footwork to his hand placement.
"To have that kind of athlete telling me how to do my job better, to make the defense better, is just too cool," Geddes said.
The previous two seasons Geddes was a scout team defensive back and had to cover Cooper in practice.
"There's plenty of film out there of him making me look just awful," said Geddes, adding that seeing Cooper do similar things to opponents' first-team defensive backs "makes me feel a lot better."
During media day, Geddes was soaking it all in, grabbing a television reporter's microphone and interviewing more prominent Alabama players. It was his chance to do what he does best: Help his teammates savor their time with the Crimson Tide.
"For me, that's what it's all about. That's why when someone asks about playing time, it doesn't break my heart or hurt my feelings. I'm out here for something different."