(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
"I have some hope and a certain level of confidence," Swofford said. "When we left Florida, that was a big step to have a consensus in the room to go to a three-game, four-team playoff. I said the devil was in the details and that would be just as challenging. We're finding that to be true, but I think a lot of people have put their heads into this. I think we've made considerable progress on it. I think we're within striking distance on most of it." The 11 FBS conference commissioners and Swarbrick agreed to move forward with a four-team playoff at an April meeting in Hollywood, Fla. They've spent much of the past two months negotiating the details of a playoff, which would replace the existing BCS structure in 2014. Under the current postseason format, the top two teams in the final BCS standings play in the BCS National Championship Game.
Vienna, Georgia star Montravius Adams, a 6-foot-4, 285-pound defensive tackle rated a five-star prospect by 247Sports and Rivals.com, attended the camp as a spectator. While he did not participate, he did get a chance to speak with Saban and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart. "They were telling me about how they run their defense and how they want to use me," Adams told BamaOnline. "They want to use me how they used Marcell (Dareus). Coach Smart was telling me how half of the NFL runs 3-4 and half of the NFL runs 4-3 and they run both at Alabama. They said next time they want me to bring my momma. I came with my coach and two other players this time."
One week after pledging his commitment to the Crimson Tide, Marietta, Georgia quarterback Parker McLeod headed to Las Vegas to compete in a regional event for the Elite 11 quarterback competition, and he shined early among the dozens of competitors at the camp. While McLeod didn't make the finals of the event, he was named among the top ten performers at the camp by 247Sports recruiting analyst JC Shurburtt, who noted that "Arm strength and a quick release stand out about McLeod when you watch him throw."
Marietta (Ga.) Walton quarterback Parker McLeod believed he had found his future home. The three-star quarterback prospect considered Alabama the right fit academically, athletically and socially. There was just one hangup. Another 2013 quarterback -- one with a higher rating, in fact -- already had announced his intentions to play for the Crimson Tide. It apparently wasn't a deal-breaker. McLeod went with his gut and committed to Alabama earlier this month, even if that meant having to compete with Rivals100 quarterback Cooper Bateman of Salt Lake City (Utah) Cottonwood. "At first, it made me step back and think about it a little bit," McLeod said. "But after talking to the coaches, they were pretty reassuring. So in the end, it wasn't too much of a factor."
Nearly all football fans have issues with passer rating. Some argue that it’s hopelessly confusing; others simply think it just doesn’t work. But there are some who believe in the power of passer rating, like Cold Hard Football Facts founder Kerry Byrne. A recent post on a Cowboys fan site talked about Dallas’ need to improve their passer rating differential. Passer rating will always have supporters for one reason: it has been, is, and always will be correlated with winning. It is easy to test how closely correlated two variables are; in this case, passer rating (or any other statistic) and wins.
"They toyed with us most of the time," Bryant said. "They were one of the greatest, if not the greatest, teams I have ever seen."
"It didn't look pretty," Kirkpatrick said of his first three days of practice with the team. Coach Marvin Lewis and his defensive staff are impressed with Kirkpatrick's development, but he won't be rushed into action. The Bengals are knee-deep in defensive backs.
Mark Barron and Ronde Barber are expected to be the starting safeties for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2012. The whole defense is expected to improve and these two safeties may be a big part of that. Barron is the ninth-youngest player on the team, while Barber is the oldest player on the roster at 37. Ronde Barber is a sixteen-year veteran, while Barron is just entering his rookie season. Barron’s play style is harsh and aggressive, while Barber uses his knowledge and tactics to gain an advantage. Unorthodox pairing? Sure. Unusual for head coach Greg Schiano? No.
9 CB Travell Dixon (Jr.)
2011 season: A first-team NJCAA all-american at Eastern Arizona Community College, Dixon recorded 39 tackles with four interceptions, four pass breakups and one fumble recovery. Ranked the No. 9 overall JUCO prospect in the nation by 247sports.com.
2012 spring practice: Worked behind starter Dee Milliner at left corner and also saw time at the star position in the nickel and dime packages. Recorded six tackles and a pass breakup in the A-Day game.
What he brings to the table: Dixon has the physical tools needed to excel in the secondary. However, fellow JUCO transfer Deion Belue seemed to reach a comfort level with SEC pace of play a tad quicker than Dixon. That's where summer workouts will prove extremely helpful to Dixon, who will head into fall camp as the fourth corner behind Milliner, John Fulton and Belue.
Richardson, too, spent time hanging out with Cleveland’s players, including outfielder Johnny Damon, a big Florida fan. "Why did you have to beat up my Gators all those years," Damon joked. "Congratulations, though. It’s nice to have you here." Richardson said he’s felt welcomed everywhere he’s gone in Cleveland. "It’s a lot like ’Bama," he said.
Trent Richardson is more than an every down back. Since January, I’ve dubbed him as a modern era Earl Campbell. He has the tree trunk thighs, the shiftiness that’s uncommon to a bigger back, and the rare combination of abilities that allows him to run through defenders or past them. It didn’t matter where Richardson was selected, he was going to be a value pick. No one who’s seen Richardson’s play will ever question the selection.
"It isn’t just him playing the rush, he’s playing a little bit of everything," said Suggs, who could miss the majority of the season after undergoing surgery May 8. "So, I think that’s awesome, and I’m really excited to see how the puzzle comes together when we’re all here. Until then, I’ve got 100 percent confidence in the kid."
Mack Brown announced his team's new slogan is "RISE," as voted upon by the players. It's an acronym from the first letters of the words they want to define their team: relentless, intensity, swagger and emotion, although the coaching staff wanted them to substitute sacrifice for swagger. "Swagger is something a lot of people talk about," Brown said, noting the team came up with four ideas before making its choice, "but unless the kids buy in, it's not worth a rip. If they want to rise this program up above eight wins, I'm in. If they want to do what the four words say, I'm in. But I'd rather have a confidence than an arrogance. I think the fact they know eight wins is not good enough is good."