Henry Newton Lyda III -- better known to the Alabama Crimson Tide football and basketball family as "Sang" -- died this morning in Birmingham following a brief illness. He was 75. Mr. Lyda started as a student manager for Alabama coach Paul "Bear" Bryant in the early 1960s and later served as the Crimson Tide's associate athletics trainer until he retired in 1995.
Alabama's legendary trainer, Sang Lyda, has died. Lyda, an old-timers' favorite, was Paul Bryant's trainer during the Alabama golden age. He also was the trainer for Alabama basketball, most notably under Wimp Sanderson. He was never the guy, he was always an associate trainer, but stories around Lyda, and the impact he had on the program, are without question. AL.com has a nice eulogy for Lyda above.
Tony Brown was working with the corners while Maurice Smith practiced with the safeties for a second day in a row. The corners were quickly rotated in and out of coverage drills and almost all of them took reps at the Star position. - For a third straight day, Rashaan Evans went through drills with the inside linebackers. Joshua McMillon joined him.
Mo Smith, who was recruited as a corner but has spent the past three seasons as a utility DB, has spent the early part of spring with the safeties. This is likely a good move for Smith. He is a sure tackler, starting on the Tide's special teams, but probably isn't the answer opposite Marlon Humphrey or manning up against speedy slot receivers. Tony Brown, still facing suspension and discipline of some sort, has been manning that other corner spot. Sixpatrick, may be moving to the SS spot, may flipflop with Eddie Jackson and take FS position...or may still force Brown out of the CB rotation.
Ross Pierschbacher started 15 games at left guard as a redshirt freshman, but this spring he’s spent time at center through the first two practices. Albeit in just helmets and shorts, he received a good grade so far from his head coach. “He’s done a really nice job,” UA head coach Nick Saban said.
It's not settled, but Hassenauer has been relegated to snaps with the Twos at center. I wouldn't be surprised to see him get some looks at guard or stay behind Pierschbacher at C. Also, as I suspected, Lester Cotton has been seeing snaps with the first team at RT. He is a ready-built grinder and a little more athletic than Dominick Jackson was at the position.
Observations from Wednesday's practice.
Prefer your practice notes in video form? 247 has you covered.
“O.J. is an outstanding player,” Saban said after Monday’s second practice of the spring. “I think there are things that he knows he can improve on as a player and there are things we can improve on to utilize him better on a more consistent basis, which we certainly plan on doing. He’s been very productive in the two practices we’ve had. “I think it’s going to work out great for him and work out great for us that he made the decision that he made. We’re excited about it and looking forward to him being someone who is very productive for us next year.”
It has been nothing but a love-fest for O.J. this offseason, and it should be. Retaining the athletic Howard is functionally the equivalent of landing a 5-star Juco transfer with SEC experience. It is particularly encouraging to hear that he is getting more looks in the offense.
As for why he stayed? He's brutally honest: to increase his draft status. That's not a bad goal either. He needs to become more consistent and continue to improve his blocking. A breakout year for Howard will see him soar up the Big Boards this time next year.
“You can have all the pieces to a puzzle, but it doesn’t mean you’re going to put it together. So I feel like everybody has to come back that came back, work and help all the younger guys get better so we can get back to where we just came from. We’re starting all over. This is a whole new team, a whole new unit. We’re trying to find our identity. So that’s what the spring, that’s what the fourth quarter (off-season program) is about.”
Much like last season, when Robinson and Ragland echoed Saban's offseason comments, this spring has seen many of the guys talk about stepping into leadership roles and helping the young guys find their identities. Anderson, Allen and Howard have been particularly vocal in this respect.
If ESPN is going to be anywhere on Saturday, April 16 — the SEC will have seven spring games that day — Tuscaloosa is it. And about those other six? The network has it covered. Kentucky (noon, SEC Network), Mississippi State (noon, ESPNU), Tennessee (2 p.m., SEC Network), LSU (4 p.m., SECN), Georgia (4 p.m., ESPNU) and Missouri (6 p.m., SECN) will each get their TV time.
TSN has a complete list of the Spring games on April 16th. Obviously, we will be in Tuscaloosa for A-day and our baseball meetup. The only SEC team without a televised spring game is Ole Miss, whose stadium is still under construction. Set your DVR for Georgia, especially. I am very curious what the Dawgs will look like.
Opelika quarterback Jake Bentley is starting to narrow down some of his top schools as he hopes to have a decision before the start of his senior year. Alabama is in that top group, he says, along with South Carolina, Miami, LSU and Stanford. Bentley said Sunday at Nike Football's Atlanta Opening Regional that he knew Stanford took a commitment from Georgia quarterback Davis Mills, "so it gave me more to think about with them." The 6-foot-4, 215-pound Bentley is a four-star recruit, ranked as the No. 104 recruit nationally and No. 6 pro-style quarterback.
Speaking of Georgia, it's going to take a while for recruits, especially top-flight quarterbacks, to realize that Smart is not the offensive mind or quarterback coach that Mark Richt is. Fortunately, Bentley seems to have gotten the memo. Alabama has the inside lead on the Opelika QB, with Auburn being a distant option.
In a move without any apparent precedent, Kentucky head basketball coach John Calipari says every player on his roster will submit his name for this summer's NBA Draft.
Yup, down to the walk-ons, every player on the Wildcats roster has announced their intention to enter the NBA draft. This isn't a bad move by the guys either: players can throw their name in the ring, compete in the combine (if invited,) and then have 10 days thereafter to change their mind. This is a killer for recruiting though, and what Calipari was likely aiming at. When Cal can trot out that "even our walk-ons are potential NBA products," it doesn't leave much topflight talent left for the other teams. And, I for one, refuse to believe this was a concerted effort by the players, rather it stinks of calculated prodding by Calipari to enhance recruiting for UK, and, to some extent, another stunt to detract from laying an egg in the NCAA tournament. We've seen similar antics by him before -- his press conferences are solely entreaties to players' NBA goals and have never been about team concepts or winning as an institution.