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Tenpenny, bound to Bama, etches it

By Jeremy Muck

This article was published February 7, 2013 at 6:28 a.m.


Altee Tenpenny signs a letter of intent Wednesday at North Little Rock High School gym to play for the University of Alabama. Joining him are (left to right) Lee Shepard, his stepdad, grandmother Barbara Sims, Shenitta Shepard, his mother and Derek Tenpenny, his dad.

— The easiest part Wednesday morning for Altee Tenpenny was signing his national letter of intent to play for the University of Alabama.

Then came all the photos with his family, friends, classmates and coaches at the North Little Rock High School gymnasium.

“I’m relieved that I don’t have to smile no more,” Tenpenny said jokingly after spending almost a half-hour taking photos.

The North Little Rock running back orally committed to Alabama on Jan. 28, 2012, and held his pledge for more than a year.

Tenpenny, 5-11, 212 pounds,also had scholarship offers from Arkansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Auburn but never wavered from his commitment to the Crimson Tide. Despite a late push from new Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema and his staff last month, Tenpenny remained committed to Alabama.

Tenpenny, a four-star recruit by CBS Sports Network national recruiting analyst Tom Lemming and the nation’s No. 46 prospect, appreciated the attention throughout the past year.

“It’s only as stressful as you let it become,” Tenpenny said. “To me, it’s been nothing but fun.”

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Shenitta Shephard, Tenpenny’s mother, said she is pleased the recruiting process is over with, adding that it’s a “load lifted off.”

“It’s a real blessing to be recruited the way he was,” Shephard said. “It’s been real tough. It’s been hard. We’ve had to do a lot of praying and soul-searching to see if it’s the right fit for him.”

Tenpenny rushed for 1,385 yards and 20 touchdowns during his senior season, leading the Charging Wildcats to a 7A/6A-East title. He was theArkansas Democrat-Gazette’s Sophomore of the Year in 2010 after rushing for 1,121 yards and 15 touchdowns before missing his junior season in 2011 with an ankle injury.

North Little Rock Coach Brad Bolding said he appreciated Tenpenny’s commitment not only to his program but to Alabama as well.

“We require them to have so much commitment to our program that they get what commitment means,” Bolding said. “You have to have a lot of respect for Altee because a lot of teenagers at that age don’t have the maturity to grasp that concept. I’m real proud of him.

“Obviously, I would have loved to have seen him be a Razorback. It is what it is. The main thing is, he’s happy. That’s all I can ask for, is for my players to be happy. I’m going to be rooting for him.”

Alabama has won the past two BCS national championships and has sent two running backs, Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson, to the NFL in the past three years. Eddie Lacy, who was part of the Crimson Tide’s 2012 national championship team, declared for the NFL Draft last month.

Bolding went as far as to predict a similar outcome for Tennpenny.

“They’re probably getting the next Trent Richardson,” Bolding said. “People will probably disagree with me on that, but not Alabama’s coaching staff. Alabama’s coaching staff loves him. That’s the reason why Saban’s been down here twice. They came down here and really developed a relationship [with Tenpenny].

“They’re getting an unbelievable kid. His character is great. His work ethic is probably what sets him apart, and the reason why he’s so much more athletic than most kids his age is that he works hard.

“They’re going to build on that at Alabama.”

Sports, Pages 19 on 02/07/2013

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agrantcsun310 says... February 7, 2013 at 8:52 p.m.

I only support Razorbacks! Enough of this kid. NEXT! Lets talk about Juan Day! A true Arkansan and Razorboack! Home is where the hear it...

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