Each day counting down to Alabama's Week 1 matchup with Utah State, I will highlight one former player whose jersey number coincides with the amount of days until the game. In honor of the Tide taking the field just 74 days from now, let's take a look at a vintage Crimson Tide star, Kareem McNeal

Kareem McNeal began his football journey in Montgomery, AL as just a freshman in high school. While the days were tough in the central Alabama heat, McNeal developed a love and drive for the game of football that would lead him to becoming one of the state's top recruits in the 1992 class.

After taking home player of the year honors for his division in his senior season, McNeal joined the Crimson Tide in 1992, and was a part of the Tide's 12th national championship team as a reserve player.

Photo courtesy of FaithOnTheJourney.com
Photo courtesy of FaithOnTheJourney.com
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As a sophomore, McNeal took over a starting role at right tackle, and by his junior season, the Tuskegee native was on the NFL's radar. Everything changed for McNeal just ahead of his final year at Alabama in 1995.

A near-fatal car accident in July of that year would unfortunately end McNeal's football career before it ever had a chance to truly begin. The Crimson Tide star who had anchored Alabama's line for the last two seasons suffered major injuries, and both of his legs were amputated following the accident.

While many would have let that situation define them, McNeal chose not to. Rather than giving up what he had outside of football, the senior buckled down, finished his degree, and even went to graduate school.

Photo courtesy of FaithOnTheJourney.com
Photo courtesy of FaithOnTheJourney.com
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Following his graduation, McNeal became a grad assistant at the RISE Center in Tuscaloosa where he worked with disabled children and eventually gained a new perspective on his own life.

"Over time I worked and God opened up doors for me to live life in a way I never imagined,” McNeal told WBRC 6 in Birmingham in a recent interview.

After spending a few years at the RISE Center, McNeal parlayed that position into a 20-year stint with Shelton State as a wellness instructor.

Now, McNeal resides in Tuscaloosa with his wife and serves as an assistant coach for Northridge High School. He has two children, one of which currently is a walk-on running back at Clemson.

Stay locked in to Tide1009.com for the countdown to Alabama football.

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