Alabama's Fan Day a good starting point for position battles
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. _ It’s known for the autograph session, which like usual had fans lined around Bryant-Denny Stadium on Sunday, but the University of Alabama’s annual Fan Day also provided a good starting point in the competition for starting jobs.
Seniors Blake Sims, Jarrick Williams and DeAndrew White served as the day’s team captains for the only open practice of the year — and included a viewer-scattering downpour. The rain eventually moved on and the damp signing session otherwise went off without a hitch.
As expected, senior linebacker Trey DePriest did not practice due to what Nick Saban described as a “minor” injury, but did conditioning on the sideline while wearing a black no-contact jersey.
Sophomore cornerback Eddie Jackson, who is coming off a knee injury, went through individual drills while wearing black, while sophomore cornerback Maurice Smith and freshman linebacker Keith Holcombe were limited. One result was that early enrollee Tony Brown and fellow true freshman Marlon Humphrey spent a lot of time working together as the second-unit cornerbacks.
While Sims led the first-unit offense, Florida State transfer Jacob Coker was primarily with the second unit. Sophomore Alphonse Taylor took snaps with the first unit at right guard, while junior-college transfer Dominick Jackson lined up as a reserve left tackle.
“I can’t say coming out of spring practice that we’re completely set with where we are in the offensive line,” Saban said. “There’s still some at least early in camp evaluation that must go into the new players and how much the older guys improved relative to how the new guys could contribute. And there may be a couple of those guys who can contribute.
“The goal and objective is going to be to get the five best guys at positions that they can play and get them together and get them to develop chemistry so that they can play well together as soon as possible. Then we want to get the next five guys behind them so we have the most possible depth to be effective as we go through the season.”
Defensively, without DePriest sophomore Reuben Foster and junior Reggie Ragland were the two interior linebackers on the first unit, while junior Dillon Lee at strongside and Denzel Devall played Jack, the hybrid linebacker/end spot he manned last season. Junior Xzavier Dickson was also heavily in the mix.
Senior Nick Perry was at free safety and on the line sophomore A’Shawn Robinson was at nose guard for suspended Brandon Ivory.
“It doesn’t matter where you line up,” said Robinson, who primarily played at defensive end last season. “As long as we bring it on the field, and we bring it out when it’s time to play we’re going to be pretty good.”
Alabama worked in shells for the first time on Sunday and will have one more practice, on Monday afternoon, before putting on the full pads.
“I think players sometimes think I’m going out here to practice and if I can just get this right, I got it,” Saban said . “But really you don’t practice to get it right, you practice to do it so many times you can’t get it wrong — and that’s what we’re trying to do with our players so that we develop habits that we need so that we can play with the kind of consistency in execution that it takes to be successful in what is a very, very difficult league.”
Note: Alabama will not release a depth chart until Week 1 of the regular season. Here’s essentially where players have been practicing so far.
QB: Blake Sims, Jacob Coker, Cooper Bateman, Alec Morris, David Cornwell
RB: T.J. Yeldon, Derrick Henry, Kenyan Drake, Altee Tenpenny, Tyren Jones
FB: Jalston Fowler
WR: Amari Cooper, Robert Foster, Cameron Sims
WR: DeAndrew White, Raheem Falkins, Derek Kief
Slot WR: Christion Jones, Chris Black, ArDarius Stewart
TE: Brian Vogler, Malcolm Faciane, Dakota Ball
TE: O.J. Howard, Kurt Freitag, Ty Flournoy-Smith
LT: Cam Robinson, Brandon Greene, Dominick Jackson
LG: Arie Kouandjio, Joshua Casher
C: Ryan Kelly, Bradley Bozeman, JC Hassenauer
RG: Alphonse Taylor, Isaac Luatua
RT: Austin Shepherd, Grant Hill, Ross Pierschbacher
DE: Jonathan Allen, D.J. Pettway, Dee Liner
NT: A’Shawn Robinson, Darren Lake, Josh Frazier, O.J. Smith, Johnny Dwight
DE: Dalvin Tomlinson, Anthony Orr, Korren Kirven, Da’Shawn Hand
SLB: Dillon Lee, Rashaan Evans, Christian Miller
MLB: Reggie Ragland, Reuben Foster, Ryan Anderson, Walker Jones
WLB: Trey DePriest, Shaun Dion Hamilton, Keith Holcombe
Jack: Denzel Devall, Xzavier Dickson
CB: Cyrus Jones, Tony Brown, Eddie Jackson (inj.)
CB: Bradley Sylve, Anthony Averett, Marlon Humphrey
SS: Landon Collins, Laurence “Hootie” Jones, Ronnie Clark
FS: Nick Perry, Geno Smith, Jabriel Washington, Jonathan Cook
Nickel: Jarrick Williams, Maurice Smith
K: Adam Griffith
P: JK Scott
LS: Cole Mazza
Injured: Leon Brown
Suspended: Brandon Ivory, Tim Williams and Jarran Reed