- Alex Scarborough, ESPN Staff Writer
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Carson Tinker was the face of the University of Alabama football program after a tornado ripped through Tuscaloosa, Ala., on April 27, 2011.
The storm tore apart the state and took with it Tinker's longtime girlfriend, Ashley Harrison. The long-snapper who went quietly about his job for two seasons was suddenly the subject of cover stories detailing the trauma, outlining the horrific effects of a tornado that claimed more than 200 lives.
It was a moment the long-snapper for the Crimson Tide will never forget. Even as Alabama competed for the national championship in New Orleans, there were stories of how Harrison dreamed of seeing Tinker play in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
Alabama won the game, and Tinker has done his best to move on.
On Dec. 8, 2011, he accepted the Disney Spirit Award on behalf of the Alabama football team.
On Tuesday, the team repaid one of its most vocal leaders with a scholarship.
After practice, coach Nick Saban announced that Tinker, a two-year starter at long-snapper, would be on a full scholarship for his senior season.
"We're very excited that we're able to award a guy that has been such a positive influence in so many ways: personally, academically and athletically in our program," Saban said.
Tinker was pulled into Saban's office on Monday for the bit of news. At first, he thought he'd done something to incur his coach's wrath.
"I was like, 'Aww, man, what could this possibly be?'" Tinker said.
To his surprise, Saban offered him the scholarship. He accepted and might have let the moment get the better of him.
"I said 'Thanks, coach.' I gave him a hug," Tinker said. "I think that made him feel a little awkward."
Tinker called the scholarship a "blessing" to his family.
"It's a big relief on them," Tinker said. "They can kind of focus on things financially that they've been wanting to focus on."
For a team wrought with four- and five-star recruits that demand scholarships, Tinker knew how special it was to receive one as a specialist.
"Coach Saban isn't very sparing with those," Tinker said. "You have to earn it."
Cornerback Dee Milliner, who himself was a highly regarded four-star recruit with multiple scholarship offers coming out of high school, said it was a boost to the team to see Tinker get awarded a full ride his senior season.
"I was very happy, with him going through the things he's gone through with the tornado and him just coming out everyday and being a vocal leader on the team," Milliner said. "For him to get offered a scholarship, it was very important to our team."
Added quarterback Aj McCarron: "The guy has worked hard. Carson has been through a lot and he's bounced back really well from everything he's been through and all that life's thrown at him, all the adversity. He's done a great job of handling everything. He's definitely an outspoken leader for the special teams, on the field and off the field. I think he gets the attention of a lot of guys."
Attention isn't something Tinker's lacked.
As if his work post-April 27 wasn't enough, his father, Carleton, became infamous for being the parent who broke Alabama's crystal football trophy during the offseason. Fortunately, the cost of the Waterford Crystal -- valued at approximately $30,000 -- won't come out of his son's scholarship.
"He can laugh about it," Carson said. "Actually heard on Squad Sunday, Barrett Jones talked about it. He talked about how everything that we had worked for, it just was gone instantly like that. He was embarrassed. He didn't want to embarrass me. I never really let it get to me. I laughed. It's like, 'Come on, dad.' We always make fun of him now."
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