By Scott Latta
UA Media Relations
For Zach Schreiber, there's no place like home for the holidays.
Just three days before his first opportunity to play in a bowl game as a member of the Alabama football team, the redshirt freshman linebacker will spend Christmas with his family and friends at home - a luxury the rest of the Alabama team cannot enjoy as they prepare for their Dec. 28 match up against Oklahoma State in the PetroSun Independence Bowl in Shreveport, Louisiana.
For Schreiber, a Shreveport native, that means only one thing: going home.
"I don't want to rub it in anybody's face but I'm going to be able to go home and see my family," Schreiber said. "It's going to be great. I haven't been home for Christmas since high school, now I get to go back on Friday and be there with them. We have a morning practice on Friday then they're letting us go."
With kickoff just three days after Christmas, the Alabama football team will report to Tuscaloosa on Christmas Eve to travel to Shreveport. Schreiber, however, will meet the team there, opting to spend the holidays with his friends and family - a family that he says is equally excited to see him.
"They're excited to see me; I haven't been back in awhile," he said. "I'm looking forward to coming back and spending some time with everybody that I don't get to see, that I normally just get to talk with on the phone, and a lot of them haven't gotten to see me play since high school."
Each Alabama football player receives six tickets to the Independence Bowl for family or friends. Four or five, Schreiber said, will go to family, with the rest going to friends in town. While no plans have been made for how he'll spend his time, he said most of it will be spent doing the things he often doesn't have time to do in TuscaloosaÂ--lay around, watch movies and relax.
Schreiber played high school football at Evangel Christian Academy, capturing the 2004 Louisiana 5A state championship with a 21-20 win over West Monroe. Schreiber, who played multiple positions in high school, caught a touchdown pass and recorded two sacks in the game.
Finding a spot for him on the Alabama squad, interim head coach Joe Kines said, was an adjustment.
"Zach is a player who played with his hand on the ground in high school and we moved him up to a linebacker," he said. "I don't recommend that over the long haul very many times. It takes a special person to do that and Zach is a special guy. It is easy to take a safety and move him up to linebacker or take a linebacker that gets big and put him with his hand on the ground. It is harder to move back because it takes awhile to train your eyes. Early on last year Zach was as lost as a ball in high weeds. Now he has come along and is playing well."
Schreiber redshirted his freshman year in 2005, and played 195 snaps as a redshirt freshman this season, recording five tackles, a forced fumble, and fumble recovery and a sackÂ--which came in his collegiate debut against Hawaii.
Now, he said, with his first opportunity to play in a bowl at Alabama, there isn't another bowl game that could have made him happier than when he saw Alabama had been selected to play in Shreveport.
"I was so happy," he said. "I couldn't wait. I get to spend a couple weeks there practicing and a couple weeks afterwards before next semester, and it's a great thing for me. You get homesick sometimes, but this time I'll be able to get sick of home."
And while the other members of Alabama's team haven't given him a hard time about being the only player going home for Christmas, he said, they've made sure he knows hailing from Shreveport bears a certain responsibility.
"They've been telling me I'll have to take them out when we get to Shreveport," Schreiber said. "So I'm going to have to take them out and show them around a little bit."