Friday, April 30, 2010

Crimson Notes 4/30/10

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Even though we are still in the final moments of April, the preliminary watch list for the famed Lombardi Award has been released.

Alabama left tackle James Carpenter, defensive end Marcell Dareus, and inside linebacker Dont’a Hightower were included in a list of 75 players who have been deemed “watch worthy” during the 2010 season.

The Lombardi is awarded to the best lineman or linebacker in the nation. In 2009, former ‘Bama nose tackle Terrence Cody was named a finalist for the award which was ultimately presented to former Nebraska great…Ndamukong Suh.

In other news, playing the “Iron Bowl” the day after Thanksgiving will present another minor “issue” for the Alabama Crimson Tide in 2010.

Just like last season, the Crimson Tide will play a Saturday game before the tussle with Auburn on Friday. To make matters worse, Auburn (like numerous Tide opponents) will have an off week prior to the “Iron Bowl” with Alabama. However, if Nick Saban gets his way, the Tide “could” have more time to rest and prepare for Auburn.

As of now, Alabama is scheduled to face Georgia State the Saturday before the showdown with Auburn. One potential plan is to move the Georgia State game to Thursday night, which would give the Tide basically a week to rest and prepare for the Tigers.

The game with Georgia State (similar to the game with Chattanooga in 2009) is a “cream puff” victory and teeters on the verge of irrelevant. With that said, Alabama will certainly make the game as “painless” for all parties involved.

Let’s be honest…Georgia State is coming to Tuscaloosa for a CHECK, and Alabama is trying to avoid serious injury. Many times you simply have to fill the schedule, and this is a prime example of one of those times.

In the days and weeks to come I’ll provide more information concerning a possible schedule change in respect to this matter.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

'Bama NFL Draft Recap/Crimson Tide Ride

Great things come to those who win, and players from the 2009 national champs were rewarded in a BIG way during the NFL Draft.

The 2010 NFL Draft marked the first time in school history that ‘Bama had five players picked in the first 3 rounds. In fact, prior to last week, Alabama hadn’t had more than five players drafted in all total…since 1994!

When the draft was over, the SEC had 49 players selected which is the most ever by the SEC. Winning breeds championships, but it also breeds NFL caliber talent.

In respect to the Crimson Tide, here is a list of all those drafted, signed as a free agent, and those attending mini-camps and workouts.

1st Round:

No. 8-Rolando McClain-Oakland
No. 20-Kareem Jackson-Houston

2nd Round:

No. 50-Javier Arenas-Kansas City
No. 57-Terrence Cody-Baltimore

3rd Round:

No. 98-Mike Johnson-Atlanta

7th Round:

No. 211-Marquis Johnson-St. Louis
No. 247-Brandon Deaderick-New England

Free Agents:

Colin Peek-Deal with Atlanta
Lorenzo Washington-Deal with Dallas
Eryk Anders-Deal with Cleveland

Mini-Camp Invites/Try-Outs:

Cory Reamer-Rookie Mini-Camp with the NY Jets
Leigh Tiffin-Rookie Mini-Camp with Cleveland
Justin Woodall-Try-Out with Chicago Bears this weekend

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Once the NFL Draft concluded, fans of the Alabama Crimson Tide had the pleasure of seeing ‘Bama take to the track! The #00 Aaron’s Toyota Camry was transformed into the Alabama National Champions Camry for the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega.

The car, driven by David Reutimann, was very competitive and stayed in the lead pack most of the day. Reutimann actually led a total of 5 laps which caused the Crimson Tide fans at Talladega to cheer!

At the end of the day, Reutimann came home with a solid 14th place finish in the Aaron’s 499, proving that even in NASCAR…Alabama is still a top 15 team!

Prior to the race, University of Alabama Director of Athletics, Mal Moore, gave the command to start engines.

Monday, April 19, 2010

White=STEAK...Crimson=BEANS: A-Day 2010

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(AP Photo/Dave Martin)

If a spring game could ever end in dramatic fashion, the 2010 version of Alabama
A-Day came down to the wire…and well…even after the wire. In front of 91,312 fans, the White team (first-team defense/second-team offense) claimed a 23-17 victory on a sunny, yet pollen filled afternoon in Tuscaloosa.

As is the case with any spring game, proper evaluation is next to impossible. Based on rules such as no kick return tackles, and no “rough contact” to a quarterback, many plays are blown dead without a “proper” outcome.

However, one can still take stock of some obvious highlights and lowlights from the day.

The Good:

Back-up quarterback AJ McCarron had a solid spring and it certainly culminated in a very solid performance on Saturday. McCarron seemed poised and showcased his solid arm, especially on the final play of the game which resulted in the winning touchdown.

Wide receiver Brandon Gibson and Heisman winner Mark Ingram were very productive. Gibson ended the game with eight receptions for 142 yards, and the game winning touchdown. Ingram had nine carries for 90 yards and won MVP honors.

The Bad:

The offensive line for both teams seemed rather unstable. Regardless of the quarterback under center, many times pressure came quick and pressure came fast. Again, it is hard to evaluate proper line protection during a spring game, but the offensive line looked rather vulnerable throughout the day.

In respect to the kicking game, the word “painful” comes to the top of the list. Granted starting punter Jay Williams has yet to arrive on campus, but the punting during the spring game was something one would expect from a lower classification high school. Sad…but true.


As for the final moments of the game, and the all important steak dinner to the winner, well it was so wild ESPN had to leave the coverage to join the NBA.

With the Crimson leading 17-7, the White squad rallied to tie the game. On the final play in regulation AJ McCarron threw a pass near the endzone which fell incomplete. Well, the game was “over” and the ESPN coverage…dissolved.

However, when steak and beans are on the line, you keep playing. Saban ruled the extra time as “sudden death” and AJ McCarron found Brandon Gibson for a 39-yard touchdown which ended the game. Acting as though the White squad had just defeated an SEC opponent on the final play, Gibson was swarmed by his teammates in the endzone.

“It felt good,” Gibson said. "I hadn't had that big moment yet. But I'm not trying to be too excited about it. It was a big play, but I just want to do it in front of 92,000 during the season."

Oddly enough (but somehow all part of the Saban process) Brandon Gibson, now a junior, has only played in seven games and caught only two passes in his Alabama career. I think it’s safe to assume, Gibson will be in the rotation in 2010.

Overall Nick Saban seemed pleased with the day and reported no injuries, which is indeed the biggest “victory” of the spring public scrimmage.

When fall camp begins in August, Alabama will certainly be ranked the
No. 1 team in the nation by most, if not all, the major polls.

Finally, the Crimson Tide continues to build for the future, and over the weekend the Tide received verbal commitments from three of the best prospects in the nation for the 2011 season.

Alabama landed arguably the top safety in the nation in the person of Hasean Clinton-Dix. Clinton-Dix is from Orlando, and is considered a five-star prospect and one of the top players in the state of Florida.

The Tide also received a verbal from Auburn High School defensive end LaMichael Fanning. Fanning is listed as the nation’s No. 12 prospect and is considered a four-star talent according to

Rounding out the verbal commitments from the weekend, Jabriel Washington from Jackson, Tenn., has given his word to Alabama. Washington, who is listed as an athlete, can play quarterback, receiver, and cornerback. It is very likely that Washington is being recruited as a corner to help fill the gaps and build depth in the ‘Bama secondary. Jabriel Washington is listed as the 10th-best cornerback in the nation, and is considered a four-star prospect.

Alabama now has nine verbal commitments for the class of 2011. It goes without saying; Nick Saban could once again haul in the nation’s top recruiting class come February.

Let the “process” continue…

Friday, April 16, 2010

Crimson Notes 4/16/10: A-Day Game Edition

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(AP Photo/ Butch Dill)

As the Alabama Crimson Tide enter the 2010 season, the annual spring game will be the first time the general public will get to see what ‘Bama has “under the hood” for the upcoming season.

As we all know, Nick Saban is not one to hand out compliments left and right at any opportunity. However, when it comes to one Julio Jones, life is a different story. Saban says that Julio has set the bar for wide receivers at Alabama, and according to casual observers this spring…Julio is better than ever! Better? Sounds like good news for Tide fans!

In respect to the spring game, like last season, it will be the first team offense/second team defense vs. the second team offense/first team defense.

Due to injury, six Tide players will either be out of action or very limited for Saturday’s game. ‘Bama center William Vlachos and defensive end Milton Talbert have been extremely limited due to off-season surgeries. However, both players will be at full speed when fall camp begins in August.

Other notable injuries include receivers Earl Alexander and Mike Bowman. The injuries to both Alexander and Bowman are pesky to say the least. Alexander is dealing with a stress fracture, and Bowman is dealing with a stomach strain, which is similar to the injury that hampered former ‘Bama running back Terry Grant in 2009.

In other news, junior safety Mark Barron has been named as one of the 42 players on the 2010 Lott Trophy watch list. The honor is named after former NFL defensive back Ronnie Lott. The winner of the coveted award will be announced in December and the individual who takes home the trophy receives $25,000 for his school’s general scholarship fund.

Tide fans may recall former ‘Bama linebacker DeMeco Ryans took home the honor in 2005.

Who would you put on the Alabama Team of the Decade? Well, ‘BAMA Magazine asked fans via ballots to compile a list of the best! Do you agree with the results?

WR Julio Jones (2008-09)
WR Tyrone Prothro (2003-05)
OL Mike Johnson (2006-09)
OL Andre Smith (2006-08)
OL Wesley Britt (2001-04)
OL Justin Smiley (2001-03)
C Antoine Caldwell (2005-08)
QB Brodie Croyle (2002-05)
RB Mark Ingram (2008-09)
RB Glen Coffee (2005-08)
TE Terry Jones Jr. (1998-01)

DL Terrence Cody (2008-09)
DL Jarret Johnson (1999-02)
DL Antwan Odom (2000-03)
LB Rolando McClain (2007-09)
LB DeMeco Ryans (2002-05)
LB Saleem Rasheed (1999-01)
LB Freddie Roach (2002-05)
DB Javier Arenas (2006-09)
DB Rashad Johnson (2005-08)
DB Roman Harper (2002-05)
DB Charlie Peprah (2002-05)

PK Leigh Tiffin (2006-09)
P Lane Bearden (1999-02)

LB Rolando McClain

Finally, click HERE to see the “BAMA BLING” the Tide is set to receive for the 2009 national title. When you can’t make a fist, one could assume…life is good!

Next week I will have a full recap of the annual spring game, and I'll also provide pictures of the #00 Aaron's/Alabama Crimson Tide Camry which is set to be driven by NASCAR driver David Reutimann at Talladega.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Crimson Notes 4/12/10

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The long wait is finally over, and Tide safety Robby Green has officially found himself on the wrong end of the NCAA guidelines.

Green, whose eligibility for the 2010 season has been in question since the middle portion of February, will be ineligible for the 2010 season due to violation of NCAA guidelines concerning the substance-abuse policy.

Under the rule, Green will not be allowed to redshirt, and must be ineligible an entire calendar year. Green is however allowed to practice for the remainder of the spring and the duration of fall camp.

Green participated in every contest last season, and was the starter in six games. Entering the spring, Robby was expected to compete for the starting spot at safety which was left available by the departure of Justin Woodall. Green will be a senior when he returns for the 2011 season.

As of now, Sophomores Rod Woodson and Robert Lester are the primary options at the safety position.

On Saturday, the ‘Bama football team held another closed scrimmage
at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The “game” was the final “live action scrimmage” prior to the A-Day Game which will be held this Saturday.

The annual spring game is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. and will be televised by ESPN. Rece Davis, Craig James, Mark May, and Wendi Nix will have all the action from Bryant-Denny.

Scrimmage Stats:

Greg McElroy - 17 for 27, 156 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT
A.J. McCarron - 17 for 30, 215 yards, 3 TDs, 0 INT
Phillip Sims - 15 for 19, 139 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT
Star Jackson - 10 for 17, 91 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT

Brandon Gibson - 10 rec., 74 yards, 1 TD
Julio Jones - 9 rec., 117 yards, 2 TD
Trent Richardson - 8 rec, 39 yards
Preston Dial - 4 rec., 46 yards
Kenny Bell - 4 rec., 33 yards
Demetrius Goode - 3 rec., 79 yards, 1 TD
Hardie Buck - 3 rec., 34 yards
Kevin Norwood - 3 rec., 33 yards

Cade Foster - Made: 27, 32, 24, 33

Mark Ingram - 19 rush, 72 yards, 1 TD
Eddie Lacy - 10 rush, 28 yards, 1 TD
Trent Richardson - 7 rush, 18 yards,

Marcell Dareus - 10 tackles, 5 sacks, 1 TFL, 2 PBU
Dont'a Hightower - 8 tackles, 2 sacks
John Fulton - 5 tackles, 1 TFL
Tana Patrick - 5 tackles
Will Lowery - 5 tackles
B.J. Scott - 5 tackles, 1 PBU
Chris Jordan - 5 tackles, 1 TFL
Jerrell Harris - 4 tackles
Rod Woodson - 4 tackles
Darrington Sentimore - 4 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 Sack
Ed Stinson - 4 tackles, 1 TFL
Robert Lester - 4 tackles, 1 INT
Courtney Upshaw - 4 tackles, 3 sacks

**Stats Courtesy of ‘Bama Sports Information**

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Reloading a Champion: Spring Practice 2010

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(AP Photo/Dave Martin)

As expected, the long period of “down” time after the BCS title game can cause some corrosion to form. Not only on the players…but on the writers who cover Alabama football. Speaking from a personal standpoint, this particular blog could not come soon enough!

For the most part, all things considered, it has been a rather calm spring thus far in Tuscaloosa. Notice I said "rather calm"...not calm.

As the team closes in on the annual spring game, to be held April 17
at Bryant-Denny Stadium, let me take this time to “rewind” the game film and fill the gaps from late March…until present day.

When Nick Saban initially met the media to begin spring camp, arguably one of the top stories was the news concerning Tide running back Terry Grant. Even though Grant had fallen in the rotation and was limited last season due to injury, Terry was still a well known name on the team, and at times a vital contributor during Saban’s first season with the Tide. Terry Grant has decided not to compete during the 2010 season, and his time with the Alabama football team is over. Grant has already earned his degree, and simply opted not to use his final year of eligibility.

Another story that continues to make “subtle waves” is the news concerning defensive back Robby Green. While the core news/story concerning Green has yet to be revealed, his eligibility for the 2010 season is in jeopardy. Green has been allowed to practice this spring, but the story regarding Green is still very much up in the air. If I could (as of now) name one story that will still be a “hot topic” come fall practice, it will be the story and or “situation” concerning Robby Green.

Linebacker Dont’a Hightower is BACK! Dont’a has been at full speed during the course of spring practice and has shown no ill effects from his knee injury/surgery sustained last fall. Hightower will likely be the leader of the linebackers in 2010, and will fill the hole left by Rolando McClain. With the return of Hightower it almost feels as though ‘Bama just received a new recruit! Dont’a looks strong and ready to hit someone!

Tide starting center William Vlachos will likely miss the entire spring (full contact) due to foot surgery. However, William is expected to be 100% when fall camp begins in August. The surgery should not impact his performance during the 2010 season.

Tide quarterback Star Jackson has missed time this spring due to academic issues. Jackson is currently active in practice but did miss a total of three days during the latter portion of March.

The rib injury suffered by Tide quarterback Greg McElroy against the Florida Gators is a distant memory. Greg said the injury was only made worse due to the fact he suffers from asthma. Greg looks to be firing on all cylinders, and like Dont’a Hightower, is showing no ill effects from the injury that limited his productivity against Texas.

New signee Dequan Menzie (defensive back) will miss the 2010 season after undergoing surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles tendon. Menzie will receive a medical redshirt. The junior college transfer is expected to be out 4-6 months.

If anyone had to put a “tag” on one question mark surrounding the 2010 season, it would be placed over the ‘Bama secondary. The injury to Menzie comes at a critical time for many reasons.

Due to the “possible” absence of Robby Green for the 2010 season, the question marks only seem to get bigger, and the injury to Menzie will only put a brighter light on the performance and the brand new secondary.

Every spring has a few names and faces who shine a little brighter. So far quarterback AJ McCarron and Tide receiver Julio Jones appear to be the “poster boys” of greatness.

McCarron was stellar during the initial scrimmage of the spring and many think Julio Jones (now 100% healthy) is even better than before. It goes without saying McCarron and Jones will be monitored closely in the next scrimmage and public spring game.

What to Watch?

-The Bama secondary! In the coming days I will give a full report regarding “secondary concerns” and what Tide fans can look for this fall. All I can say is…get ready for new names and new faces. Get to know the names: Dre Kirkpatrick, DeMarcus Milliner, BJ Scott, and Phelon Jones.

-The kicking game. Will new faces equal new success?

-The linebacker shuffle. How ‘Bama will make the most of the linebacking core.