A Columbus North High School graduate who performs in the University of Alabama marching band will be on the field at halftime as the Crimson Tide tries to win a second straight national football championship against Clemson tonight.

Evan Watkins, a 2015 North graduate, will be among 400 members of “The Million Dollar Band” who will take the field to entertain and cheer on the Alabama team (14-0) from the sidelines in the national championship game against the Tigers (13-1).

The game is being played at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.

Watkins, the son of Scott and Anita Watkins of Columbus, is a sophomore studying electrical engineering. He was a four-year member with the Sound of North marching band in Columbus and plays tenor saxophone.

The band will be performing “American Salute” and “Before Freedom” as part of its show during the game, he said.

Watkins said his participation in the Million Dollar marching band is just another benefit to his overall college experience.

“I get a social circle that I probably otherwise wouldn’t have,” he said.

Watkins also performed in the band at Alabama’s national football championship game last year.

“It’s something that I’ll look back fondly on how I was in college during the golden days,” he said.

His mother, Anita, who plans on watching the game on television, said she is excited that her son gets to participate in such events while in college.

Evan Watkins also performed at the Dec. 31 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, where Alabama beat Washington 24-7 to qualify for a berth in the national championship tonight, his mother said.

Photos from the Peach Bowl show the band, clad in their red and white uniforms, spelling out “BAMA” in a large formation that fills the entire football field.

He also made a trip to the Cotton Bowl a year ago with the Alabama band.

Where to watch

What: Football national championship game, University of Alabama vs. Clemson University

When: 8 p.m. today

Where to watch: ESPN

How did the band get it's name?

There are two stories as to how the University of Alabama band received the name “the Million Dollar Band,” both involving the university’s rivalry with Georgia Tech.

One story goes that Alabama’s football team was struggling and playing Georgia Tech, when the Georgia Tech coach declared, “Your football team isn’t worth a nickel, but you have a million-dollar band.”

In the second version, in a 1922 game involving Georgia Tech, W.C. “Champ” Pickens is credited with giving the name to the band because band members were required to raise money in order to be allowed to travel to the game. The band members were able to raise the money and went to the game, which Alabama lost, but a sportswriter was said to comment, “You don’t have much of a team; what do you have at Alabama?” Pickens replied, “A million-dollar band.”

Source: University of Alabama website

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Matt Kent is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at 812-379-5712 or mkent@therepublic.com