26 June 2008
| Javier Arenas - #28 - DB - 5-9 - 183 lbs. - Tampa, FL - Robinson HS - 2 Varsity Letters
There have been a lot of negative things said about former Bama head coach Mike Shula
and his staff over the course of these player profiles, so let’s give credit where it is due – Javier Arenas
was a true diamond in the rough, and the best job of finding a little recruited, but contributing player, done by Bama’s former staff.
Going after a guy like Andre Smith
that was all world was easy. But finding a guy like Arenas late in the recruiting process has paid huge dividends for Bama as Javier has developed into one of the nation’s premiere punt and kick return men.
He has already topped 1,000 career kick-off return yards, and trails only Arvin Richard
and Bobby Humphrey
on Bama’s all-time list there. His 11.7 yard career average on punt returns is 2nd best in Tide history. That average took a huge jump to 15.4 yards per return in 2007, making him a huge weapon for the Tide.
Unfortunately the 3 TD returns on punts means it is unlikely that teams will continue to kick to him – though Les Miles and LSU made that mistake late in their game against Bama, and Arenas made them pay with a TD that gave Bama a chance to win that game.
Now there is an added bonus to Javier, though… he can play cornerback. Although he is a little small for today’s game at 5-9, Javier uses his quickness, strength & raw athleticism to his advantage. He's quickly become one of Nick Saban’s
favorite players. Unexpectedly, he will enter fall practice #1 on the depth chart at left cornerback after playing much of the 2nd half of last year at the “Star” position in Bama’s nickel defense.
2008 Prospectus: Javier will likely shatter Bama’s record for career kick-off return attempts and yardage. How he fares on punt returns will depend on how many times teams choose to kick to him. Either way, a team kicking away from him requires shorter punts, and the mere threat of him gives Bama better field position.
As a cornerback, he’ll face a tough battle from incoming freshman phenom Alonzo Lawrence
and from 2007 returning contributor Marquis Johnson
. Given his experience from last year, he has a serious leg up on both guys, and might relinquish the left CB position only in the nickel package where his skill-set is much better suited for the “Star” position.
He gained a ton of confidence in his abilities as a DB last year, and that should benefit him greatly as he has a larger role in 2008. Very popular among coaches and his teammates, don’t be surprised if you see him elected on of Bama’s permanent team captains. During Fox Sports’ recent “Under the Lights” special about Alabama football, Javier was one of 3 Bama players, and the only non-Senior, interviewed.