"Kendall Sheffield has not been here for last couple days," Saban said. "I don’t really know what his status is, so there’s no need to ask me. We’re happy to have him back, he’s a fine young man, he’s worked hard, he’s made a lot of improvement here. We enjoy having him be a part of the team, if that’s what he chooses, and we will continue to work with him in a positive way to help him develop personally, academically and athletically."
Yeah, I know everyone wants to talk about Kendall Sheffield. According to Saban, he's still on the team if he chooses to be. That makes it seem like he's taking some time to think to make the right decision for his life. Can't blame the guy for that.
Remember a few years ago when wide receiver Kenny Bell "retired" for all of part of a week? I get the feeling this may end up being a similar situation with Sheffield. That is purely my speculation though... Please don't go and tell everyone and their mothers that Brent said he's staying.
It's a product of the system, people say. Saban and the recruiting juggernaut he has built ultimately get the bulk of the credit.
But those discussions are flawed. Most analysis of Alabama's success at running back involve a name that usually goes unsaid, a common denominator that is too often overlooked.
He's a former Nebraska fullback and lifelong assistant coach. He's hard-nosed on the field and deeply caring off it. He's set to turn 64 in October, a native of New Orleans and the son of a Marine who fought in World War II and was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. He's the only assistant remaining from Saban's first staff at Alabama in 2007 and the teacher to the school's only two Heisman Trophy winners. When Mark Ingram won the award, he thanked him by name. So did Derrick Henry.
"Coach Burns," Henry said in front of the Heisman Trust in New York last December, "I could go on and on, but these past few years have been a blessing, just to be coached by you. And just as much as you're proud as me, every day I wake up and I'm so proud to call you my coach."
This is a great long form piece from the guys at ESPN. If you don't click any of the other links, give this one a read.
For years, I've said that Coach Burns is the most integral coach on this entire staff. Not once has Alabama ever been devoid of an elite running back. It is all well and good to talk about winning championships by running the ball and playing defense, but that can't be done without an elite runner. And those are difficult to come by-- just take a look at the NFL, where there are very few superstar backs left in the league outside of Adrian Peterson following the retirement of Marshawn Lynch.
Yet Coach Burns has churned out one running back after the other, even dating back to when he taught James Davis and C.J. Spiller at Clemson. He's coached up three 2nd round draft picks, two first rounders, two Doak Walker award winners, and two Heisman winners. Now THAT is a resume.
We may not know yet if Bo Scarbrough and Damien Harris will be up to the task to become the face of the vaunted Alabama rushing attack this fall, but with Coach Burns behind them, I have no doubt it won't be another stellar year.
"It's probably difficult for him, I'm not very sure," Allen said. "But he's doing a great job of it. As a freshman, there's still a lot of room for improvement, and a lot of room for him to work. He's just trying to get better and trying to listen to the older guys and work hard."
Tight end O.J. Howard has yet to encounter Davis on a blocking assignment, but he's got a rough plan in case he sees the rookie coming his way.
"Get my hands inside," Howard said, "keep my feet moving. That would be the thing I'd do."
Raekwon Davis is a monster. However, unlike former human mountains like Terrance Cody, he carries it exceptionally well. Though his height may lead to some issues with leverage, just think of what he can do with his ridiculous wingspan. With that kind of length, he should be able to cover two different gaps much easier than a stockier lineman, even if he is engaged. Plus, just sticking his arms straight up will give opposing quarterbacks headaches as they try to throw around his outstretched arms.
With A'Shawn Robinson and Jarran Reed leaving for the pros and vacating the interior, don't be surprised if Davis manages to carve out a role for himself in the defensive line rotation this year.
It seems like we get a eulogy for Alabama about once per season, typically before the Crimson Tide rattle off a whole bunch of wins. The same thing happened last year, with some decrying the end of the Alabama dynasty after the loss to Ole Miss, and we all know how that happened.
Sure, Alabama’s had some turnover. But the Crimson Tide look like they’ll be typically elite on defense, and Nick Saban always has the Alabama program reloading, rather than rebuilding from a talent standpoint. Perhaps just as importantly, a number of those players played a major role in Alabama capturing the National Championship last season.
So a lack of leadership and chemistry? Don’t buy it.
For the second week in a row, 247Sports is joining in on Gump Day festivities. The only part of this team that even somewhat worries me is the communication line between the center, quarterback, and running back. All three will be new starters (although Ross Pierschbacher was the starter at left guard last year). We may see a good number of pre-snap penalties early on this season, but those kind of things usually start to go away after only a few games of playing together.
Outside of that, this team is loaded- perhaps the most talented from top to bottom since the 2010 and 2012 squads. The starting running back and his backup, whatever the order, will both be former five-star recruits. The receivers are probably the best receiving corps in the entire nation. The offensive line will feature three former five-star recruits, one of which, Cam Robinson, will be a third year starter and likely top-ten draft pick.
Three of the top four defensive linemen were five star recruits, lead by senior Jonathan Allen, who chose to forgo a likely first round pick last year for another season. The linebackers feature human ballistic missile, Reuben Foster, in the center of the defense, while a man who many believe is the best pass rusher in the nation, Tim Williams, returns for his senior season too.
The top two cornerbacks were both five-star recruits who started for Alabama as freshmen and return for round two, while the third cornerback is still being decided by a battle of more five-star players. At safety, Eddie Jackson returns for his senior season after being on of the top interception-grabbers last season.
This could be a special team, guys. It all depends on how they end up working together and if they approach the season with the right attitude and focus, but this team has unfathomable talent.
Arguably Alabama’s top overall target in the class, five-star guard Collin Sexton has seen a meteoric rise on the recruiting circuit this spring and summer.
The 6-foot-2, 175-pounder shot up the recruiting rankings, currently sitting as the No. 2 point guard and the No. 12 overall player in the country. Sexton has been to Tuscaloosa twice, and will likely return for an official visit this fall. No set timetable has been put on a decision, but don’t be surprised to see Sexton pull the trigger on a commitment early in the fall. Alabama holds all 14 Crystal Ball predictions.
Speaking of five-stars, it looks like Coach Avery Johnson has a very good shot of landing the 2nd overall point guard in his first full recruiting cycle with Alabama. He's building a real program over on the hardwood court- a program that may become a true contender sooner rather than later.
The morning's two-hour practice was the 13th of camp with this evening's session marking the midway point of the fall schedule. The team will take part in 28 total practices leading up to the season opener with the Southern California Trojans on Sept. 3.
The two storied programs will meet in Arlington, Texas, for the AdvoCare Classic inside AT&T Stadium with the game scheduled for a 7 p.m. CT kickoff on ABC.
Tuesday is slated for a single practice, the Crimson Tide's final before the start of fall classes on Wednesday. The four practices during the work week will lead into the weekend where the team will scrimmage for a second time inside Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday.
Football is just around the corner. Roll Tide.