September 29, 2007

Homecoming for Oakley, Kirschman

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Will Oakley has his share of family support when the Florida native plays home games. Father Bill is a former Alabama baseball player who makes a routine of seeing games, while his grandfather, Jim is a longtime faculty member in UA's School of Communications.

FSU vs. Alabama
When: Saturday, 4 p.m. CST
Where: Municipal Stadium, Jacksonville, Fla.
Records: Alabama (3-1, 2-1 SEC); FSU (2-1, 0-1 ACC)
The line: FSU by 2.5
Television: CBS.
Notable: The teams have not met since 1974, an 8-7 Alabama win. ... Alabama has 11 native Floridians on its roster, including several (Keith Brown, Roy Upchurch, DJ Hall) who were recruited by the Seminoles. ... Two defensive starters coming off injuries for Alabama, linebacker Darren Mustin and noseguard Brian Motley are expected to play.
But Saturday, there will be a few more eyes on the junior wide receiver than usual. Alabama's neutral site game against Florida State (4 p.m. CST, CBS) in Jacksonville, Fla., puts the former Nease High standout virtually in his backyard. Nease is just south of Jacksonville in St. Johns County.

"It's like a homecoming game for me," said Oakley. "Most of my friends go to Florida State anyway, theyll all be there with their student tickets. It should be fun."

The same is true for Crimson Tide linebacker Charlie Kirschman, also a Nease product.

"I've got 12 tickets right now and if I can get any more I've got people waiting on them," said Kirschman. "I've got my dad and sister coming and a couple of his friends. It's exciting."

Kirschman has yet to see the field this season, playing the "Jack" linebacker position, which carries both pass rush and coverage responsibilities.

"The difficulty for me has been pass rushing, being a little undersized and going against some of those big tackles," said Kirschman. "But I enjoy the competition and I feel like I'm getting better. It's a lot of fun playing a spot where you can be versatile and the offense doesn't really know what you're going to do."

Oakley made a crucial third-down catch in Alabama's win over Arkansas, and although it remains his only catch of the season thus far, Oakley is upbeat about his role for the remainder of the season.

"I had some more hamstring problems in camp and I wasn't healthy in the spring, so I'm only just now getting to show what I can do here in the last few weeks of practice," said Oakley. "I'm excited to see how things play out, because I'll definitely be ready whenever my number is called."

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