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Fall Practice: Early News and Notes

As we all know, Fall practice started on Friday evening, and the team held its first complete team session on Saturday afternoon. Now that day three is in the books, let's go through some early news and notes:

  • The first thing that stands out visually is the physical condition of the team. It doesn't take too many first glances at several of the returning players to see the benefits of the S&C program. To put it mildly, it's obvious that the days of Club Shula are long gone. I cannot remember the last time we had a team this physically impressive.
  • Fortunately, unlike last year, we have stayed healthy to date. A year ago, Demetrius Goode went down with a torn ACL in the first practice, and shortly thereafter Brian Motley went down with a broken ankle. To date, though, we've been relatively healthy, and hopefully we can keep that trend going.
  • Speaking of Brian Motley, he is healthy again and is currently back working on the offensive line. Motley spent most of last year and this past Spring on the defensive line, but after a broken hand sidelined him for the remainder of Spring practice, apparently Saban and the coaching staff felt he was a better fit on the offensive line. In all honesty, it is probably just a depth issue. Lorenzo Washington and Josh Chapman have looked very good at nose guard, and with the addition of Terrance Cody, Motley would have probably been a fourth-teamer. On the interior offensive line, though, we do have some depth issues, and Motley will have a decent shot at a back-up job there. I don't know if we are planning on keeping him at center, but I did see a photo of him snapping the ball to Star Jackson.
  • Darius Hanks has been sporting a black no-contact jersey in the first couple of days of practice, and offensive coordinator Jim McElwain finally cleared up his status on Sunday. According to McElwain, Hanks is sporting the black jersey due to shoulder surgery he had after Spring practice. Hopefully Hanks will be able to go soon, but no timetable has been given for his return. At the very least, though, things don't seem overly serious, so that should be good news. Saban did not seem overly concerned.
  • Prince Hall is finally taking the conditioning aspect of football seriously. We all know the old Joe Kines quote about Prince being a biscuit away from putting his hand on the ground, but practice photos have shown Hall to be significantly trimmed down. The gut is gone, and he actually looks pretty lean. We'll have to wait and see how he does once he returns for the Arkansas game, but he is easily in his best physical condition since arriving at the Capstone. 
  • Jonathon Lowe was not listed on the 105 man roster, and is currently not participating in Fall camp. According to Coach Saban on Sunday, Lowe is not on the 105 man roster because he did not participate in the "voluntary" summer workouts. Saban went on to say that no determination had been made on whether or not he would be invited to join the team when school starts. As was the case with Bryant many years ago, we are quickly learning that these "voluntary" workouts under Saban are in fact, to recite Jerry Claiborne, "voluntary my ass" workouts. 
  • Nikita Stover has recovered from the hamstring injury that limited his work in Spring practice, and he seems to be in very good shape. Stover was always a highly-touted player -- when he signed in the 2004 recruiting class coming out of Hartselle, he was generally considered the top player in the state -- but he has yet to put it together on the field. He's a senior this year, though, and it's now or never for him. Fortunately, all of the player comments on him have been very positive, and most are expecting him to do really well this season.
  • Terry Grant has added about eight pounds in "good" weight -- his words, not mine -- and he is hoping to be able to be an every-down back. Frankly I do not see it happening, but nevertheless it is nice to see him put on a bit of weight.
  • Javier Arenas, aside from legitimately vying for the starting cornerback job, has a great vertical.
  • Baron Huber was moved to linebacker for a few days this past Spring, and it seemed like he would stick there. However, as Fall practice began, Huber was back on the offensive side of the ball. Just as was the case with Motley, this was probably just a depth issue. Huber just isn't a very athletic guy, and with guys like Hightower and others at inside linebacker -- not to mention the return of Prince Hall -- he likely just wouldn't have been able to see any meaningful amount of playing time. We don't use the fullback on offense very much, of course, but he should grab most of the meaningful snaps there just like he did last year.
  • Terrance Cody is a big man, no two ways about it. He looks to have slimmed down a tad bit, but honestly he is still probably near 380 pounds. At the very least, he's still the biggest player we've had in years. However, don't assume that Cody is a statue. As many expected, all of the practice reports have raved about how quick Cody is for a guy of his size. He's big, but surprisingly quick off the snap. 
  • As if Julio Jones wasn't already a legend before setting foot on campus, he has certainly not done anything to damage his legendary reputation thus far. In fact, yesterday at Fan Day, he turned many heads -- and even got a few "Ju-l-io!" chants going -- with things like this.
  • Tyler Love suffered a stress fracture during the summer, and you have to wonder a bit about his status. Before the injury, I was thinking he was going to take the starting job at right tackle early on, but now things are just up in the air. He is not wearing a black no-contact jersey, which is a good sign, but if you look at this practice photo of him, he's wearing some sort of a splint or brace, and obviously things aren't quite 100% yet. He is definitely one to keep our eyes on. 
  • As per usual, our own alextuscaloosa has posted many high quality photos to his Flickr account. Click here to be directly linked to his page. There are a ton of great photos there, and keep checking back because he usually updates things on a fairly regular basis.
  • One final note for the recruiting front... yesterday at Fan Day, Dre Kirkpatrick, Kendall Kelly, and Nico Johnson were all in attendance. It's not that I've really ever had any doubt that we would get all of those kids, plus Tana Patrick, but it's always nice to see them taking unofficial visits to Tuscaloosa of their volition.