With six Crimson Tide defensive backs chosen in the NFL Draft in the last four years, Alabama has earned a reputation as arguably the nation's top producer of talent in the secondary. Nick Saban and his staff have made defensive back a major position of priority on the recruiting trail every year at Alabama and the Class of 2013 figures to be no different, according to BamaOnline recruiting analyst Tim Watts. "Nick Saban is very particular when it comes to the defensive back positions. Especially corners," Watts said. "All told I think they will add four, maybe five when all is said and done. In every class they look for a couple of elite guys at those positions."
As is the norm, Saban fielded questions on Tuesday about local players on the Crimson Tide roster - in this case, cornerback Deion Belue and H-back Brent Calloway of nearby Russellville. "Deion and Brent both had really good springs," Saban said. "I think they will contribute. I am proud of the way they've done things." Saban also mentioned Belue, who played two years at Northeast Mississippi Junior College after graduating from Deshler High School in nearby Tuscumbia, as one of "two new guys" who have a chance to contribute "for sure" after going through spring practice. The other was running back T.J. Yeldon. "Hopefully, we'll satisfy some more needs on our team with some of the players who are coming in this summer," Saban said. "The biggest thing a freshman has to do is to mature into his role, and you can never be 100 percent sure how they will do that."
"I really do miss spring recruiting and not being able to go on the road," Saban said. "We've adapted and my involvement is talking on video conferences and the telephone. Try to do as much as I can in evaluation and get ready for next year's opponents. "When our players come back, we start our camps and we can't work with our players in the summertime but our strength and conditioning coaches do that. Try to get ready and prepare for the season." Saban said he'll be able to take some genuine downtime midway through June after all of the team's summer camps. "You just got to shut down sometimes," Saban said. "It's important for the coaches to do that and it's certainly important for our support staff to be able to do that. "Our strength and conditioning coaches' down time is now. When the players aren't there. They come back and slowly take over in the summertime.
"I just think that's one of those things that's not always going to be controlled," Saban said. "It's not manipulated with who you play. We have a rotation, we have to go through it. "I think the other division games you play on the other side are important to our fans and there's a lot of tradition involved in some of those games. I think if you minimize the importance of those games, that wouldn't be in the best interest of our league."
A mover-shaker type asked me an excellent playoff question at the ACC spring meetings this week. How do you avoid a Stanford-Oregon situation? As conference leaders across the country hammer out their playoff preferences during the next few weeks, that question will dominate the conversation. It seems clear leaders know what they want (a four-team playoff) and where they want the semifinals played (in bowls), but they can't seem to agree on who should make the field and how that group should be selected. ACC and Big Ten leaders threw their support behind a model that gives preference to conference champions. The Big Ten would like to see conference champions within the top six in the playoff. Those leagues will face staunch opposition from the SEC, which will sensibly argue that the four best teams regardless of affiliation should make the tournament. But no matter how that debate ends, the next step should be the creation of a blue-ribbon selection committee to pick the teams.
While defending national champion Alabama is down a handful of stellar defensive starters from last season's historic season, the Crimson Tide can't be counted out. The defense has more than capable players ready to fill holes. Nico Johnson and C.J. Mosley are ready to take over at linebacker, while Jesse Williams and Damion Square will lead up front. The secondary still has veterans Dee Milliner and Robert Lester and welcomes junior college studs Deion Belue and Travell Dixon. "We're going to be younger on defense. We don't have as much experience, but we've got some good players," coach Nick Saban said. "I was pleased with the progress that we made -- not satisfied with where we need to be."
When sports fans hear the word throwback, they think of classic jerseys and leather helmets and players like black-shod, crew cut-wearing Johnny Unitas. In short, they think of the type of wholesome, quiet quarterback that has always stood under center at the Capstone. McCarron doesn’t fit the mold of the traditional Alabama quarterback; you know, the quiet, humble game manager that trots onto the field to dutifully hand the ball off to his tailback. The Crimson Tide’s offensive leader is supposed to manage the game, give the defense a breather, and be on the field to take a knee when the game is well in hand. McCarron is no game manager. In fact, a case can be made that Tide fans haven’t seen his like around Tuscaloosa since a couple of guys named Joe Willie and Snake were on campus.
For more than half a century, Jeff Coleman served as an administrator for the University of Alabama athletics department overseeing an era of massive growth made possible partially due to the success of the Crimson Tide football program.
Berkstresser took over the No. 1 quarterback job during spring practices when returning starter James Franklin suffered a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder, which required surgery March 23. Berkstresser, who will be a redshirt freshman this fall, ran the first-team offense the rest of the spring and was expected to lead the offense during summer passing sessions, which begin later this month. The team’s medical staff expected Franklin back for the start of the season, but it’s unclear how much, if any, practice time he’ll miss during preseason camp in August.
"It was very nice of Geno," said Grace's mother, Cindy Buckel. "He's kind of a quiet guy, very unassuming. Grace was very surprised when he walked in. She enjoyed having him in the room. They took pictures, and they just talked." "Even the doctor that came in to check on her during that time knew who Geno was, and asked for his autograph, which I thought was kind of funny. She enjoyed the time he was there. It made the time go by faster."
When the hierarchy of the National Association of Basketball Coaches met recently to discuss whether the NCAA should overturn the graduate transfer rule, they held their discussions in private. Oh, you bet they did. They issued no press releases regarding their talks. Of course they did not. How, really, would even the most skilled public relations strategist have spun this? How does one explain that the coaches — as a group — are campaigning to NCAA president Mark Emmert against a rule that emphasizes education, that rewards the successful pursuit of a degree, that reinforces the value of senior athletes? All that is at work in the graduate transfer exception. To qualify to be immediately eligible upon transferring schools, the "student-athlete" must complete degree work at his current institution and then pursue an advanced degree at his new school.
But there's more than the prior relationship in St. Louis that makes [Marquis] Johnson an intriguing prospect, Spagnuolo said this week. There's his background of playing defense in Nick Saban's system at Alabama. "We've said it and (interim head coach) Joe (Vitt) and I have talked about it a lot -- that these players that come out of this Alabama program, especially on defense, for whatever reason (have been impressive)," Spagnuolo said. "I think we know the reason. They have good coaching down there. "Marquis has shown that. Marquis is new here and has some things to work through. He knows that. It's a second chance. We'll give him a good look."
USC now obtains the master lease for the 88-year-old stadium, giving the university the exclusive right to use, manage and operate the facility. USC has wanted to gain control of the Coliseum for years and will finally do so after commission members acknowledged last year they would be unable to keep their promise to USC to make $50 million in improvements to the aging facility.
Of the 76 former college football players that were nominated, only 14 were voted in, and the most impactful college linebacker of the last quarter century wasn't one of them. Ivan Maisel of ESPN.com wrote that no school can have a player selected two straight years. Hmmm. If that's the case, after three straight years in which an Alabama linebacker (Woodrow Lowe), an Alabama coach (Gene Stallings) and an Alabama defensive lineman (Marty Lyons) earned the necessary votes, why even put Thomas on the ballot just to leave him there?
The April 27, 2011, tornado cut a jagged gash through the city nearly six miles long, leaving destruction and debris where homes, businesses and trees once stood. But now, pale purple and white flowers have popped up all along the tornado’s path. Petunias have sprouted in backyards, on vacant lots and next to busy roadways, and it’s not entirely clear how the perky funnel-shaped blooms came to be there, although there are some theories. "They came from Brown’s," said Margaret Brown, who with her husband, Daniel, owns Brown’s Nursery on Crescent Ridge Road. When the tornado struck the nursery, the force scattered the contents of their 16 greenhouses far and wide. It was less than two weeks before Mother’s Day. "(That) was our busiest time of the year," she said. "Our greenhouses were packed to the gills."