19 August 2010
The Alabama football team practiced with its full roster for the first time on Wednesday. With classes starting, the Tide was able to expand and include all players for the full pads practice.
Here's what you need to know:
There are some interesting things going on from a roster standpoint.
First and foremost, it looks as though Harrison Jones has joined the team after initial reports were that he would greyshirt. Unfortunately it looks as though he might be joining the team at the expense of Alfy Hill.
Hill was not at practice on Wed. and the rampant rumors are that some technicality popped up with his transcript and the NCAA Clearinghouse. It's certainly very late for that type of thing to occur, but the Clearinghouse works on its own schedule - just ask LeRon McClain.
There has been no official word from the University about Hill's status, but if you believe the rumor mill, it sounds as though he'll be headed to a junior college. Definitely a disappointing turn of events for a young man who spent all summer working out in Tuscaloosa, and participated in the brutally hot fall camp. If this is the direction that things are taking, hopefully he'll be back with the team in a year and a half.
There has also been no official word on whether that actually was Harrison Jones practicing with the tight ends. But the guy was wearing Harrison's assigned #40 and looked eerily similar the younger brother of the Tide's starting right guard.
Also noticeably absent from practice was Kendall Kelly. He was quickly replaced on the 105 man roster when he was unable to practice due to what the staff called, "heat related issues". It was thought by most that he would be back with the team as soon as classes started and the roster could be expanded. The fact that he wasn't at practice today signals that those issues could be more serious than originally thought. If he's not back at practice by next Monday, don't be surprised to hear that he's been medically disqualified. He's a big time athlete with real potential at both wide receiver and safety, so keep your fingers crossed here.
Robby Green was with the team, though he will not play during the 2010 season. As I mentioned yesterday, his ability to work with the younger guys in the secondary should be invaluable.
DeQuan Menzie was back in a red jersey and cleared for contact. He was back at his customary spot with the second group at corner. He showed no ill effects from the hamstring injury that held him out the last couple of days, and seemed to have good energy from having rested his achilles.
DeMarcus Milliner is still in black, and still sporting a protective boot for what is being called a sprained ankle. This kid is a super talent, and a real threat to play as soon as he is healthy. At most other positions I would say that he's headed for a redshirt if he's not healthy in week one. But since he plays cornerback, I'll say that as long as he's ready to go by week six, he'll play. I don't think it'll take nearly that long for him to be healthy again - I think he's good enough that the staff would burn the redshirt late in the season to get him on the field.
Blake Sims is also still in black with a dislocated toe. If you've ever had a toe injury, you know that there's not a lot that can be done. You simply have to rest it until you can deal with the pain.
Undra Billingsley was in black for the first time with an ankle injury that is not thought to be serious. He's been working with the second unit at defensive end, behind Marcell Dareus. If you think about the potential eligibility issue with Dareus, the second unit guy there is potentially the starter if the NCAA doesn't rule on Marcell soon. Working with the second group today was the noticeably slimmer Darrington Sentimore.
One positional thing that jumped out today was Robert Lester working with the cornerbacks. He's been alternating between first and second unit at safety, so seeing him work with the second group at corner is certainly an interesting development. My guess is that he's taking the reps there in order to prepare him to play the star position, which is a hybrid corner/safety role. The fact that he was working with the second group would again be an example of why Coach Saban calls the groupings organizational. Lester would not actually be the second corner behind Dre Kirkpatrick, but by placing him there in the rotations, he gets the second most reps.
Mark Barron is continuing to work at the star position in the first group when Bama goes to nickel. And true freshman Nick Perry continues to work alongside Will Lowery at the safety spots when Bama goes to that package. Barron would certainly make an imposing star, but I think the coaches would prefer to have their only experienced defensive back line up at the safety spot that he manned last year. It will be interesting to see if Lester continues to get corner reps, an if he does, if that results in him playing the star.
Corey Grant is still working with the defensive backs, but I'm still not sold on him staying there. I'm guessing that once Sims or Milliner are able to practice again that we'll see him head back to the offense.
Michael Bowman at H-back is something that I think might stick, which of course means he'll probably be back at receiver tomorrow. Bowman's size simply makes him too much of a candidate to play a position that Bama is very thin at. Preston Dial has had good things to say about his work there so far, which indicates that Bowman might see that as his real opportunity for meaningful playing time.
Otherwise, guys were working in the spots that we've grown accustomed to seeing them work. With the last scrimmage of the fall coming on Saturday, it's unlikely that we'll see a lot more personnel changes in the next two days. After the scrimmage is when we'll likely see the experimenting stop and we'll see guys settle into the position that they are expected to play during the season.
Bama will practice again on Thursday afternoon, and we'll have our normall report.
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