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Spring Practice: Eleventh Day News And Notes

You know the routine...

  • Alabama began the final week of Spring practice on Monday afternoon, with a two-plus hour session in full pads. All in all, it was a fairly routine practice with nothing out of the ordinary. There were no injuries, and as far as I can tell no one unexpectedly returned from injuries. Will Oakley returned from his hamstring injuries, but I'm not sure if he is going to participate this weekend. After today, we are now done to four practices, we only have two more practices before the A-Day game.
  • For your weekly Jimmy Johns update... He had a good scrimmage Saturday, but that's not the news. Afterwards, Coach Saban was talking about the versatility of Johns, and he we were planning on moving him around a bit. He said that we would give him a look at outside linebacker because of who is coming in the Fall -- paging Donta' Hightower and Jerrell Harris -- and even mentioned the possibility of lining him up as a rush end in passing situations. And sure enough, in Monday's practice Johns was taking snaps at outside linebacker, after spending all spring at weakside linebacker. At the very least, given his versatility, I think it's a given that Johns is going to see a lot of snaps this Fall. And it seems like Coach Saban either expects a couple of the linebackers to play a lot, or outright start.
  • Speaking of the move by Johns at linebacker, that has shifted things around quite a bit. That move from weakside linebacker to outside linebacker now means that Chavis Williams is the back-up at outside linebacker. He was running with the first team before that, but has been relegated with the influx of Johns. And in Johns' wake at weakside linebacker, Corey Reamer has now moved up to the first team there. I assume that Brandon Fanney is still running with the first team at Jack linebacker. Long story short, the point is that sans McClain, everything else is kind of up in the air a bit, and several different players have taken snaps at several different positions.
  • Speaking even more about linebackers, for whatever reason, the general consensus on Zeke Knight seems to be that he will not return this Fall, and will end up on medical scholarship. Now I have no clue what exactly is wrong, or why that seems to be the case, but the general consensus of most articles and quotes you read seems to indicate that. And, the move by Johns to outside linebacker only further suggests that is the likely scenario. By moving to outside linebacker, if he stays, Johns will play the same position that Knight starred in a year ago. Though he may move back, it's a bit hard to envision a scenario that involves moving Johns -- considering he was clearly the best weakside linebacker on the current roster -- just to put him in a situation to where he will sit on the bench backing up Zeke Knight if he returns. Keep in mind that both Knight and Johns are seniors, so it's not like Johns can go and back-up for a year and learn something. Either way, when I first saw the talk of Johns being moved to outside linebacker, that is the first thing that popped in my mind. The general consensus has been that Knight probably wouldn't return, and this move only seems to give us a bit of concrete evidence that the coaching staff may be thinking the same way.
  • Brian Motley talked with the media after practice, and discussed his injuries and current situation. Obviously he was frustrated with the three broken bones in the past year -- after never having any in his life before then -- but perhaps more to the point he openly admitted that he really didn't know where he is going to be in the Fall. He was open about the fact that he may play on the defensive line, but that he might just end up on the offensive line again. Either way, it seems a definite decision has not been made yet by the coaches, and it could still go either way.
  • Baron Huber continues to work at linebacker, and at multiple linebacker positions to be precise. He had a decent scrimmage on Saturday, and is seeing snaps at both Jack linebacker and inside linebacker. Nothing is definite yet, to be sure, but it seems like he is going to stick on the defensive side of the ball. He was actually a star linebacker in high school, and thought he would play there at Alabama, but he quickly moved to fullback once he arrived. Now he's at linebacker and doing well, and you have to consider that even if he moves back to fullback, he's just not going to play very much. It could still go either way, but it certainly seems like he's found a new home at linebacker. In fact, to explicitly quote Huber, he said, "I'm looking for it to be permanent."
  • Darius Hanks continues to impress. Just about every article you read, or every Saban press conference, Hanks is mentioned in a positive light. He starred on the scout team a year ago, and he seems to be destined to do it on Saturdays this season. I doubt he will end up our #1 receiver, but with good speed, good hands, and good route-running abilities, he's going to get the ball a fair amount. As Mike McCoy said yesterday, "That boy is going to be something special, something special. He's going to surprise a whole lot of people this year."
  • Mike Johnson talked at length yesterday about the transition to left guard, and from all I can tell, things seem to be going really well. Not only do I think Johnson's natural skill set fits much better at guard than at tackle, he has some experience from playing guard a year ago, and by putting him at left guard, that puts him in the middle of our two best offensive linemen, Andre Smith and Antoine Caldwell. I think he's a natural guard anyway, and life is much easier being in the middle of two very good linemen. All in all, it seems like the left side of our offensive line should be very good.
  • Several of the players who have been dressed in black no-contact jerseys for most of the Spring continue to be held out. Guys like Patrick Crump, Glen Cofffee, Nikita Stover, and Lionell Mitchell are still sporting the black no-contact jerseys, and I think at this point you can pretty safely assume that they are done for the Spring. We probably won't see those guys in action until the Fall.
  • Interestingly enough, we've had a bunch of the incoming freshmen on campus the past few days. At practice yesterday, John Michael Boswell, Kerry Murphy, and Brad Smelley were present, and at the scrimmage on Saturday incoming tailback Mark Ingram made the trek from Flint, Michigan to watch the Tide. At the least, it's nice to see the freshmen being so involved in things early on. A lot of those guys will report in the next couple of months.
  • Finally, we do not have a definite word yet on Tremayne Coger. He apparently was not at practice again yesterday, and he is still not listed on the official roster. It's odd that we do not have a definite word on him one way or the other, but it certainly seems like his days may be done at Alabama.
The Tide will return to the practice field on Wednesday afternoon, so stay tuned here at RBR and we will keep you up to date.