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Former Alabama football players Gene Newberry and Cornelius Bennett shared stories about head coach Ray Perkins after he passed away at the age of 79 earlier this week.

Perkins replaced Paul Bryant as head coach of the Crimson Tide in 1983 and had a role in recruiting both Newberry and Bennett to play for Alabama.

Newberry, a native of Blackville, Arkansas, spurned the Razorbacks as well as the Tennessee Volunteers because of his relationship with Perkins.

"A lot of guys will tell you that you pick a school because of the school and you never know if the coach is going to stay or not but when it really comes down to it, I chose Alabama because of Coach Perkins," Newberry said on The Gary Harris Show on Tide 100.9.

The former quarterback who would later become a tight end said that Perkins spent more time with the quarterback than any other position group, to the point where the rest of the team nicknamed the group, "the teacher's pets."

Despite the ribbing Newberry and the other quarterbacks received from teammates, Newberry said he cherished getting to know his coach on a more personal level.

"He opened up to us, Vince [Sutton] and I especially being one of his first recruiting classes, I mean he just spent a ton of time with us," Newberry said. "My first day on campus, Jan. 2, 1984 I went and watched the Miami-Nebraska National Championship Game at his house. I have a lot of great memories of him and it is just very sad news, especially around the holidays. I just hate to hear it."

Bennett credits Perkins for grooming him into the football player and the man he became. The Birmingham native said that he and Perkins would meet every week and discuss multiple topics from football tactics to life advice.

"Coach Perkins is a very special person to me," Bennett said on The Ryan Fowler Show on Tide 100.9. "He not only help me become the football player that I was but the person I became. He saw something in me as a 17-year-old that I didn't understand. I didn't know who I was going to become but he did."

A visitation will be held at The Church of the Highlands in Tuscaloosa on Monday Dec. 14 from noon until 2 p.m. with the funeral service to follow. A graveside service will be held at Tuscaloosa Memorial Park. For those who cannot attend in person can watch the visitation online with this Zoom ID: 963-4154 3620.

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