Happy Monday, everyone. The baseball team had a big weekend, taking two of three from #7 LSU. As usual, Roger will have a recap later this morning. In other news, spring practice gets cranked up today:
During spring break, we saw rising redshirt freshman Blake Barnett diligently working with quarterback guru George Whitfield over the course of a couple days. Cornwell spent his week off with tight end O.J. Howard and the two of them threw and caught passes in Houston. Will the younger guys usurp Bateman’s spot at the front of the line? We will see tomorrow afternoon.
Among the players that could see increased reps in place of Robinson include early enrollee freshman tackle Jonah Williams, who like Robinson came to Alabama as a highly-recruited five-star product, as well as second-year players including sophomore and former four-star tackle Lester Cotton and redshirt freshman Matt Womack, a former three-star product from Mississippi. All three could work their ways into the offensive line rotation this fall with a strong showing this spring, even if it’s not necessarily at left tackle. Another option is junior college transfer Charles Baldwin, who is the presumptive favorite to win the starting job at right tackle but could also see some crosstraining opportunities this spring.
"We give everybody a muscle mass, body fat, hydration, functional movement test," Saban said after Alabama’s first spring practice Friday. "We try to work hard with Miss Amy (Bragg) to come up with what’s the most efficient, effective weight for a guy. We see how this guy’s moving, how he’s running relative to how he used to run.
"Sometimes these guys keep lifting weights and they just keep getting bigger and bigger and bigger. I think at certain positions, especially skill positions, that’s not always advantageous. We felt Bo’s efficient weight – it had nothing to do with injuries – it’s just how can you play the best?"
It's difficult to remember Alabama being less-settled at both quarterback and running back than it is heading into 2016. It certainly hasn't been the case in the Saban era. In each year since Saban took over as Crimson Tide head coach in 2007, the team has had either a returning starter at quarterback or a proven running back (if not necessarily a returning starter). But that's not the case this year. Unbeaten quarterback Jake Coker and Heisman Trophy-winning running back Derrick Henry are both gone, leaving question marks at both positions in their wake.
Unsurprisingly, almost all of the talk centers around the QB and RB positions, with the OL battles coming in at a distant third. Thankfully, there is little question about the other side of the ball. Cooper Bateman was running first at QB as Saban sticks with seniority to open the competition.
"Alabama has always been my top school that I wanted to go to," Johnson said. "Defensively, I feel like I can come in and produce and help. As many people know, Alabama is all for getting linebackers to the NFL. That's something I want to do, and I think I can go into Alabama and make it happen." The 6-foot-1, 225-pound Johnson has offers from the likes of Mississippi State, Ole Miss, UAB and South Alabama.
Not a ton of info out there on Johnson, but he has offers from several top programs and will have three years to play two starting in 2017. While there is plenty of time before NSD for others to change his mind, Johnson hails from Alabama and playing for the Tide seems to be a dream for him.
There were some highs and lows along the way, including a coaching change before his senior season that led him to consider transferring, but eventually Obasohan transformed himself from a reckless foreign playmaker to an all-conference first-teamer. He also helped the Crimson Tide establish a foundation to build upon under new coach Avery Johnson.
"My biggest thing was I wanted to be able to leave this program better than I found it, leave a legacy here where I impacted more than just the university, I impacted a community in a way that is beneficial for itself," Obasohan said. "And just to be able to see just how the fan support has grown and how electrifying it is in the gym. It’s literally a dream come true."
Great read on Retin Obasohan, detailing the culture shock for a Belgian immigrant going to school in Alabama as well as some personal demons he had to overcome to reach his full potential.
What would the Alabama basketball team have done this season if Gregg Marshall had said yes? Avery Johnson exceeded every reasonable expectation in his first year in Tuscaloosa, and Alabama is lucky to have him, but it's natural to wonder. Could Marshall have guided the Crimson Tide beyond a giddy stay on the NCAA Tournament bubble that ended with a one-and-done NIT trip?
No way to know, but it's hard to criticize the job that Avery did this season. Next season will certainly be interesting as he brings in some of his own players. Of course, it is worth mentioning that Johnson beat Marshall head to head this season.
"Well, I know him, so I say 'Call me, all the time, and for any advice,''" he said with a smile.
"Surround yourself with good people," he continued. "There needs to be an elder around you and a brother who's gonna do it with you. Usually those two people will guide you and tell you whatever you need to do to help you still be who you are, and grow and become a man—and at the same time nudge you back from the path that could be dangerous for you."
Sounds like good advice...
McCarron was asked whether he would prefer being a backup in Cincinnati or a starter in Cleveland. "The best thing for me is to stay in this present time," the former Alabama quarterback said. "I am thankful for the opportunity I have right now. Of course, I want to play. What quarterback doesn't? The way I look at it, God has a plan. Whatever happens is going to happen. He is going to set things up. I expect to be in Cincinnati. I understand my name is out there, but I don't know what other teams are looking to do. I'm taking it day by day and enjoying the moment."
I certainly hope that AJ winds up somewhere other than the football abyss that is the Cleveland Browns. The Browns haven't been to the playoffs since 2002, are coming off a 3-13 campaign, and just lost most of the few good players they had including their Pro Bowl C and LT in Alex Mack and Joe Thomas plus leading receiver Travis Benjamin. I'd rather he end up literally anywhere else.
That's about it for today. Have a great week, everyone.