Choosing a side: Alabama players remember Iron Bowl experiences from their youth

Choosing a side: Alabama players remember Iron Bowl experiences from their youth
Robert Sutton / UA Athletics

Linebacker Ryan Anderson during practice.

In this state, kids make a big decision early in their life. This decision determines how you decorate your house, who you become friends with, and most importantly where you spend your fall weekends. The state of Alabama is divided, and you have to choose a side. There is no way around it.

Current Alabama football stars, Marlon Humphrey and Ryan Anderson, know about that decision all to well. Humphrey grew up in Hoover Alabama and Anderson grew up in Daphne, Alabama. The decision they said was made in elementary school.

Humphrey said it wasn’t just lunch.

“In (Physical Education) class it was set up separated," Humphrey said. "I had my red wig on for Alabama, and dad’s old (letterman) jacket. It was crazy. It’s a really big deal.

“I remember my earliest memory of it was in elementary school and everything we did was separated by Alabama or Auburn. You ate lunch with Alabama fans." “So, just looking back on that it’s a big deal, I know it affects a lot of people.”

Humphrey’s dad, Bobby Humphrey, played for Alabama in the 1980’s. It made the decision a little easier for Marlon. Anderson decided to become an Alabama fan early on and would follow his cousin Wallace Gilberry and by choosing to play for the Crimson Tide.

“When I was growing up, you know I always pulled for Alabama in the Iron Bowl, and my cousin he played here,” Anderson said. “Just going to school, the other kids holding up their thumb for six in a row, all that stuff, I hated it, man. I said if I ever had a chance to play here, play against them, I just don’t want to lose to them.”

Anderson said he actually got so mad with a classmate that he kicked him. He said it was about the fourth or fifth grade. Anderson knows how heated it gets and he said the out-of-state players might not understand it when they come to Tuscaloosa.

"I was just telling Cam (Robinson) the other day in the training room this game means for me what the LSU game means to him,” Anderson said. “They kind of figure it out. They understand it."

Running back, Damien Harris may be from Kentucky, but he knew all to well what kind of rivalry he would be getting into. Harris took his official visit during the Iron Bowl in 2014. One that Alabama got it’s revenge in for the loss in 2013 loss.

“It’s one of those games, one of those rivalry games, one of the biggest in the country,” Harris said. “If you’re a fan of college football you pretty much know about it. You don’t really have to hear about it when you get here. You know what it’s about.”

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