10 August 2008
- The biggest and most important bit of news is that there's no news. That is, there are no major injuries to expected contributors. Around the SEC you'll Auburn has lost starting CB Aairon Savage and Florida has lost starting TE Courtney Ingram - both likely for the season. Kentucky has also lost its starting QB Chris Pulley, though not from injury - he was kicked off of the team for continued violation of team rules. The fact that Bama is virtually intact is amazing.
- Bama did lose walk-on Adam Fuller to a hand injury. The freshman from Glencoe, AL was not expected to be a contributor this season, but the fact that he was invited to be a part of the 105 man roster is an indication that the coaches think highly of him.
- Baron Huber is entering the break having spent the last 3 days in a black no contact jersey. Huber also made the move back from WILL linebacker to fullback, where is the expected starter. That is a bit of a misnomer, though, as Bama is not expected to use the fullback much, and will more times than not use a tight end in the backfield as an H-Back - Travis McCall has been the guy most frequently used in that role so far. Huber's injury, according to Coach Saban is a concussion, so I would expect that he'll be back soon.
- All of the other players who spent time in black jerseys during the first 9 days were cleared for full participation in Saturday's scrimmage. Darius Hanks has spent the previous 8 days in black as a precaution over off-season shoulder surgery. Chris Jackson had spent a couple of days in black after tweaking his ankle. Marcel Dareus also missed a couple of days with a slight ankle injury. Ali Sharrief was briefly in black with a slight concussion.
- The biggest news from a position move standpoint involved Demetrius Goode. After showing out quite a bit in last summer's 7-on-7 drills at running back, Demetrius tore his ACL during the first practice. Still hampered by the injury during the spring, he had fallen to the bottom of the depth chart. With the Tide bringing in 3 newcomers to the position, Demetrius was moved to cornerback. He's still got a way to go to learn the position, but he's received positive reviews from both coaches and fellow players. He and Huber are the only 2 guys to change sides of the ball.
- The biggest news during the early days of camp was the omission of Jonathan Lowe from the 105 man roster. There have been rampant rumors that Jonathan may have left Alabama and enrolled at Jacksonville State, though there has been no confirmation of that. Indications from his father, former Tide football player Eddie Lowe, are that he plans to enroll at Alabama for the fall semester. We'll let you know something on this issue as soon as we know something definitive.
- The biggest battle for a starting position has developed at nose guard. For a couple of days redshirt freshman Josh Chapman practiced ahead of returning starter Lorenzo Washington, though the reporting of that as a "depth chart issue" by several newspapers drew the wrath of Coach Saban. In Saturday's scrimmage, Washington was back with the first unit, though Chapman and JuCo transfer Terrence Cody both worked into the rotation.
We’re going to have to look at these two early scrimmages and make evaluations a little more like you would when you cut your team in the NFL. Sometimes you don’t keep all the best players because some younger players might be not quite as good as the veteran players at the time, but you’ve got to make a decision to invest your time in certain guys who may be able to develop and make you a better team over time. And I think some of those decisions are going to have to be made early in this camp.That sends a powerful message to some of the underachieving upper-classmen on their off day... come back next week ready to compete at a higher level, or be prepared to be passed on the depth chart. Who stood out? Is anyone practicing somewhere other than anticipated? Is anyone close to cracking the 2-deep?
- Julio Jones has been as good as advertised. He continued to work behind Earl Alexander all throughout the first 9 days, but had a big scrimmage on Saturday - 2 receptions for 59 yards & 2 TDs. He has already worked himself into the playing rotation at receiver, and it seems as though it is only a matter of time before he claims a spot in the starting lineup.
- The defensive equivalent of Julio has been Marcel Dareus. He is already one of the strongest guys on the team and has been the standout among all of the freshman defensive players - true or redshirt. A slight ankle injury had him out of a couple of practices and that could have set him back. However, he appears to have worked his way close to the playing rotation at defensive end. Unfortunately for Marcel, but fortunately for Alabama, depth at that position is shaping up to be pretty good. With Bobby Greenwood and Brandon Deaderick holding down the starting spots and Luther Davis and Alfred McCullough serving as their chief backups, there are some talented guys between Marcel and playing time.
- Mark Ingram may have already worked himself into the rotation at running back. He got 12 touches during the scrimmage (9 carries & 3 receptions), which was the second most among all backs. He passes the "eyeball" test also, at 5'10 and a powerfully stocky 215 punds, he has the look of a feature back. He was a track star in high school, so labeling him a "power back" is probably a misnomer.
- Mark Barron & Don'ta Hightower drew praise from Coach Saban after Saturday's scrimmage. Both of these guys were expected by many to come in and contribute, and they appear on their way. Surprisingly, Hightower started out at the MIKE linebacker, but has since moved to the WILL. Barron has, as expected, been at safety where he is pushing Justin Woodall. He's also seen work at the nickel back, or "star" position.
- Coach Saban also singled out B.J. Scott as showing promise. He's had a bit of a tender hamstring, but he's not missed a practice because of it. He's also had some problems catching the ball, but that's to be expected with him learning the receiver position.
- Alonzo Lawrence has worked at both corner and the star position, earning positive reviews at both spots.
- Tyler Love started camp wearing a brace on his right leg because of a stress fracture suffered during the summer. That brace has since come off, but he is still working 3rd team at right tackle, potentially headed for a redshirt.
- Michael Williams & Glenn Harbin have spent all of their time at the JACK linebacker position, which is a bit of a shock. Williams was thought to be either at tight end or defensive end, and Harbin was expected to be a DE all the way. But both guys have the ideal frame for the JACK position. They still have to get through Brandon Fanney, Alex Watkins & fellow incoming freshman Courtney Upshaw to earn playing time.
- The biggest surprise among the newcomers has been Brad Smelley. Because of the Tide's depth at tight end he still might redshirt, but he has been extremely impressive as a pass catcher during the early parts of the camp.
- Jerrell Harris started out at the WILL linebacker before landing at the SAM where many folks expected him to start. He's still behind Chavis Williams at the position, but looks to have possibly earned his way into the rotation.
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