Sunseri made 31 tackles for UA last year, and the increased playing time he received at the end of the season can only help his progress in practice this spring. "I’ll have to compete in the spring like anyone else," Sunseri said after the BCS title win over LSU in January. "But I definitely have more of a comfort level now from having played some. I’ve had some great players around me that helped me all year." UA wide receiver Kenny Bell said Sunseri’s aggressive defensive play reminds him of former UA cornerback Javier Arenas.
Saban was duly impressed with the way Sunseri handled his playing time last year, particularly late in the season when he was called on to replace Barron for injury reasons. "Vinnie wore lots of hats last year. He lined up and played special teams. He was an all-type role in the secondary," Saban said. "For a guy who hadn't been a defensive back, he did a marvelous job to be able to evolve and do those things."
Dee Milliner has been there, right where they are, feeling just as lost. Two seasons ago, he started 11 games as a true freshman. Last year, he started six times but played extensively in every game, particularly whenAlabamawas in nickel and dime situations. "Back in my freshman year, I was the youngest guy back there," Milliner said after Monday’s practice. "Now I’m taking more of a leadership role. I got to tell everybody what to do. "Trying to just help the young guys out, since I’ve been there and done it, trying to help them out so they get better."
Experience might be lacking. Talent is not. Alabama coach Nick Saban was asked Monday about Fulton but sized up the overall picture at cornerback. "Jonathan has done a good job and shown a lot of maturity," Saban said. "He's got a little more experience and knowledge. He made very good progress and shows a lot more confidence in his ability to play. "But there is a lot more competition at the position. Deion Belue is a really good cover guy and done a really good job. Bradley Sylve is a young guy that looks like he's got some potential. Travell is doing a good job and getting better everyday, too." Milliner has been consistent and has played well all spring, Saban said. "There's a lot of competition at the position," Saban said. "John has got to be able to play with consistency and not give up plays, which is the whole key in the secondary.
New coordinator Doug Nussmeier and shifting personnel means spring practice requires "learning a new offense," Bell said. Though early in the process with just a few practices in the books, this new approach appears to include added sizzle. "It’s more down the field and more explosive for the receivers," Bell said.
Alabama returned to practice Monday to go through its sixth practice of the spring and coach Nick Saban said afterward that he could tell that one side appears to be moving faster than the other. But unlike most teams, Saban said it was the offense that has looked more composed during the early stages of spring practice. "I think offensively we are a little bit ahead than we are on defense in terms that we have a few more experienced guys," Saban said. "We have a very experienced offensive line. I think AJ [McCarron] has had a really good spring far; he's done a nice job. I think Philip [Sims] is competing very well behind him, and working hard to push him and compete against him and with him. I think the receivers have made improvement, and we have some young guys that we need to continue to improve as well."
With the success of the Crimson Tide program in recent years, the assistant coaches at UA have become a hot commodity in the coaching business, and the UA Board of Trustees also rewarded many of their efforts with a pay raise on Monday. "I think there's a very competitive market out there when it comes to assistant coaches," Saban said. "I think it's imperative that we keep continuity and that we had the opportunity to be competitive salary-wise with other schools who are trying to hire our coaches. "It doesn't really matter what my opinion is or anyone else's opinion. The market is what it is, and if we're not willing to pay that to the best people that we have, they're not going to be here."
Alabama sophomore All-American Jackie Traina threw every pitch of both games to help lead the No. 2 ranked Crimson Tide (32-1, 9-1 SEC) to a doubleheader sweep over rival Auburn (24-11, 3-7 SEC), Tuesday night at Jane B. Moore Field. Alabama downed No. 24 Auburn, 4-2, in game one and capped off the twin-bill with a 5-2 victory in the night cap. The Tide has now downed Auburn in 17 straight games after the pair of victories. Traina allowed just one hit in the first game and then followed that up, scattering four hits in the night cap. She threw 240 pitches in all, striking out a total of 18 on the night. Sophomore Kaila Hunt batted .500 on the day with two home runs and a double while senior Cassie Reilly-Bocciaalso batted .500, hit a home run and walked four times.
Four Alabama gymnasts were honored by the Southeastern Conference following the recent SEC Championships. Seniors Ashley Priess and Geralen Stack-Eaton earned second team All-SEC honors while sophomore Kim Jacob was named the SEC Gymnastics Scholar-Athlete of the Year and sophomore Ria Domier was named to the SEC Gymnastics Community Service Team. "The overall success of our program is built on excellence in the gym and the classroom and in making a difference in the community around us," UA head coach Sarah Patterson said. "To have our ladies honored by the Southeastern Conference in all three areas is a point of great pride for our team."
"Boy was I wrong," Mayock said of suggesting [Trent] Richardson might get out of the Top 10. "He’s going in the Top 10. Let’s face it, if the two quarterbacks [Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III] go 1-2, and the Vikings are not in the market for a tailback at No. 3 because of Adrian Peterson, this kid is going 4, 5 or 6. He’s the best tailback I’ve seen come out since the aforementioned Adrian Peterson. He brings toughness, he brings speed, he brings pass protection." "Trent Richardson might be the best position player in this draft," Mayock said. "I watched 150 of his carries today. I watched every catch he made on tape today. . . . I watched every pass protection I could find in about a 10-game span, and he might be the best pass-protecting running back in this draft also. So when you talk about toughness and perhaps the best positional player in the entire draft, I think if he is available at No. 5, with that offensive line, [the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have] got to pull the trigger."
Tyler Bray knows he's on as warm of a seat as his head coach Derek Dooley. After the Vols failed to live up to expectations, missed a bowl game — thanks to the first loss to Kentucky since 1984 — Bray called himself out Monday for being immature and needing a change. "Last year," Bray told the Knoxville News Sentinel, "I wasn't the smartest guy. Kind of dumb. "This year I'm trying to get my act together and trying to get this team where it needs to be."
It’s an idea that has been kicked around before. Here are the basics of Dabo’s proposal: College football teams have the option of a spring game against themselves or another team. If you play another team, it must be both an out-of-conference team but also one within a reasonable driving distance. The coaches will agree upon the rules of the scrimmage in advance. "Personally, I think it would be a good thing for college football to do," Swinney said. "College football takes in a lot of money. I think it would be an opportunity to give something back to your school or a charity. "The other side of it is this: We’re already doing it in basketball. Our basketball teams play other teams but it’s closed, so nobody knows about it. For example, Clemson plays Georgia in basketball every year. But it’s a closed scrimmage. You know, nobody can be in there except the two teams. If they didn’t want to do any type of public thing, I wouldn’t have a problem with having a closed football scrimmage where nobody could be there but the staffs of both teams."
"We want to have the Vince Young and the Chris Simms and the Major Applewhite and the Colt McCoy," Brown said, "but we also don't want to have so much pressure on that position that if he has a bad day, he gets sick, he gets hurt and we automatically lose the game."