27 March 2010
The Alabama football team held its fourth practice of the spring on Friday in fantastic weather in Tuscaloosa. The full pads practice was held in front of more than 1,200 guests as a part of Bama's annual coaching clinic.
Here's what you need to know:
The only two guys in black were William Vlachos and Milton Talbert. Both of them have been in black the entire time, and Vlachos is expected to stay that way throughout the spring. Talbert has worked in individual drills every day, but has yet to be cleared for contact. Interestingly enough, he continues to move back and forth between defensive end and jack linebacker. He is the very definition of a 'tweener'.
Trent Richardson was cleared for contact today after having been in black on Wednesday. He did have a heavy wrap on his hamstring and appeared to skip a few reps to get some treatment. Don't be shocked if he takes it easy again at the next practice.
Star Jackson was noticeably absent from practice, and no one seems to know why. There is a general atmostphere that surrounds each absence from practice, and in this case that atmosphere felt like this was an excused absence. When you're #3 on a loaded quarterback depth chart, you really don't want to be missing practices, and it will be interesting to see if Jackson is at Saturday's workout.
Kendall Kelly is continuing his work at the safety position, and it's beginning to look like this is more than just an experiment. He has now spent better than 25% of the spring practices at the position, and with each day that passes, you have to think that the move might become more permanent. He isn't a guy who got a ton of reps at wide receiver in 2009 due to both injury and the fact that he was redshirting. So if he is ultimately going to play wide receiver at Alabama, he needs to get reps at that position. The fact that he is continuing to work at safety, obviously, means that he isn't getting those reps. That makes it seem more evident that he might be looking to make the move for longer than just the spring. Though I still can't get past the #81 working in the secondary.
The offensive line groupings are continuing to take shape, which means that we are starting to get a look at where some of the younger guys are ending up. Early enrollee Austin Shepherd has started his career at right tackle, while fellow early enrollee Chad Lindsay is working with the centers. Redshirt freshman Kellen Williams worked with the left guards in 2009, but is now working with the right guards. It's doubtful that any of these three guys will see playing time in 2009, but they are a prime example of the type of talented depth that Alabama is developing on the offensive line.
Star Jackson's absence meant additional reps for all of the Tide quarterbacks, with the real beneficiary being Phillip Sims. He continues to impress with his maturity and arm strength. He's still likely headed for a redshirt, but the experience that he is gaining by being here for spring practice will be invaluable when the competition to replace Greg McElroy begins next spring.
Trent Richardson taking it easy for consecutive practices meant more reps for the running backs behind he and Mark Ingram on the depth (ahem) organizational chart. That means that we obviously saw more of Eddie Lacy, but while the redshirt freshman continues to be heavily talked about, there are still two guys ahead of him in the groupings. Both Demetrius Goode and Jeramie Griffin are routinely working ahead of Lacy in the groupings, and both guys look very solid. Goode looks to have added some weight, while Griffin's recovery from knee surgery is progressing nicely.
Marcell Dareus is still working with a heavy brace on his left elbow, but he is an impressive guy to watch go through drills. Last season we heard Lorenzo Washington refer to him as a "three year player" and that seemed to be the general consensus among the coaches that were visiting today - including the former NFL coaches who are in town as guest speakers. Look for Bama's pass rush to be much improved by the simple fact that he is getting more snaps.
Brandon Gibson got a little work in with the safeties late in practice, though he is getting most of his work with the wide receivers still. I'm guessing that Kendall Kelly's progression at safety has made the Gibson move unnecessary, so it isn't likely to be something we hear much about throughout the spring.
Bama is set to practice again on Saturday - the first time this spring that the Tide will practice on consecutive days. We will have our normal report.
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