As many as five Alabama players are projected as first-round picks. What does that say about this group? "We're just hard workers, man," said Upshaw, who credited coach Nick Saban. "Playing under a coach like Coach Saban, if you buy into what he coaches and he tries to preach to you, it goes a long way, not only on the field but off the field as well. "A lot of teams look at that stuff. I had an off-the-field issue. Playing under Coach Saban and being able to make plays the way I did, you can kind of overlook that a little bit and see that on the field, as a football player, I'm a playmaker."
Richardson certainly left an impression on Cleveland Browns running backs coach Gary Brown, who was knocked on his back by Richardson during a drill despite the benefit of holding a tackling dummy. "(UA assistant coach Burton) Burns didn't try to go head up with us too many times when we were in practice, or we probably would have been trying to push them over too," Richardson said. "Any time someone's in my way, I'm going to try to knock them over. Either they're going to hit me or I'm going to hit them."
Although he didn't participate in the shuttle runs or three-cone drill, Richardson worked with scouts on a number of position drills. Surrounded by a large group of family and friends, Richardson walked out of the Hank Crisp Indoor Facility drenched in sweat after a long morning. "I was showing everybody I could move on my knee," Richardson said. "I was showing everyone that I'm still myself. I'm ready." Richardson said he'll have no problem doing what he did Thursday again and again for teams that want to invite him for a private workout. Cleveland (fourth pick), Tampa Bay (fifth) and St. Louis (sixth) are already locked into Richardson's schedule.
"I think he's probably the best running back in the draft this year," Tide coach Nick Saban said. "Probably one of the best players in the draft. I think that's based on his performance and his production and his consistency he's played with. The personal characteristics he has in terms of psychological disposition to be successful, which is really A-plus. "I know there are some people that have some concerns about taking a running back high but with the salary-cap changes in the rookie pool, you're not investing as much in a guy as you used to."
“There hasn’t been a top ten running back since Adrian Peterson, and I want to set the bar high and put us back on the map,” Richardson said. “We need to be in the top ten we need to be that high ’cause a lot of team try to beat up on us, but when it comes down to it they needs us early in our career to try to get a contract and big step with it.”
Facing questions concerning Upshaw’s ability to play as a standup linebacker in a 4-3 scheme, Alabama coach Nick Saban said he felt his former linebacker did enough to show his speed in coverage. At Alabama, Upshaw played in a 3-4 defense, a point of concern that Saban feels is unwarranted. “He weighed 280 pounds today and ran a 4.7-something so I think he probably could,” Saban said of Upshaw playing in either defensive scheme. “He played both here. I know a lot of people say, ‘Hey, you play a 3-4.' But we only play a 3-4 20 percent of the time and the rest we’re in some kind of 4-3 defense and he always played defensive end and did a great job.
It was a rib injury that limited Alabama safety Mark Barron against Auburn in November. A bilateral hernia bothered him all season, but didn’t take him away from the action until the BCS title was secured. Now 80 to 90 percent back to normal, the Mobile native is back in NFL-tryout mode. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.53 to 4.57 seconds in Thursday’s Alabama pro day after missing the first one earlier this month. Lateral movement is still an issue, so he sat out some the agility drills, but he looked strong in defensive back drills late in the morning. Playing through pain is becoming routine for the safety. He played part of the second half of a 2010 loss to Auburn with a torn pectoral muscle. “I think that one of the things that they know that I am a tough guy, and they know that I will play through injury, so I do not think that is anything that they are worried about,” Barron said.
In the midst of a lawsuit by the University of Alabama over the proper use of Crimson Tide colors and logos, the University has officially trademarked “Roll Tide” as its own property. The move comes as artist Daniel Moore continues his legal battle over his right to depict classic moments in Crimson Tide football history in his paintings. “With regard to trademark infringement, UA argued that the First Amendment does not give anyone the right to infringe on others’ trademarks,” a UA spokeswoman said. “Of course we believe freedom of expression is a key component of the University of Alabama experience. But don’t get it twisted: freedom ain’t free.”
Patrick Murphy has gone through it before. For Vann Stuedeman, this will be the first time. Murphy, the University of Alabama’s softball coach, went head-to-head with a former colleague for years when Yvette Girouard was at LSU. This weekend, Murphy will face off with longtime assistant Stuedeman, now head coach at Mississippi State. Stuedeman was UA’s pitching coach for 11 seasons and played a major part in guiding the Crimson Tide to six Women’s College World Series appearances. When Murphy left to take the head coaching job at LSU last June (ironically, replacing the retired Girouard) — then changed his mind to return to Alabama — he decided to not retain Stuedemann. Shortly thereafter, she was named to head the MSU program some 90 miles away.
Repping the passing game over the next three Saturdays won't be just about the offense. On defense, two starting corners and a safety must be replaced in the secondary. Up front, most of last season's pass rush numbers left with NFL-destined linebackers Courtney Upshaw and Dont'a Hightower. Looking at what must be replaced, I'd go as far as to say the perimeter (corner and pass rush) of the defense will be the key to the 2012 season. In the past, Alabama hasn't needed much of a reason to go to the air in scrimmage work. This spring, it has plenty of them.
This is what college football's most powerful men definitely know about what a future playoff will look like: a national title game will be in January of 2015 and the format or plus-one model will not consist of more than four teams. Other than that, to paraphrase, Sgt. Schultz: they know nothing. On Monday, the 11 FBS commissioners and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick met for the third time in three months to discuss college football's future, specifically what the postseason will look like after the 2014 regular season. They all admit they have made a great deal of progress since January, but the problem is the more progress they make creates even more questions. "The more you drill down, the more complicated it gets because when you do one thing, it affects something else," MAC commissioner Jon Steinbrecher said. "It's challenging. We're making progress, but we have a ways to go. The deeper you get, the deeper you have to dig."