Alabama 2021 target Dylan Brooks returned to campus on Saturday for the second time since picking up an offer. He breaks down the trip with BamaOnLine.
Roll Tide Nation
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- After Alabama’s first spring scrimmage a week ago, Nick Saban said “we have a lot of work to do” regarding the inside linebackers and their mental errors on the field.
Outside of rising junior Dylan Moses, the position group needed some work. So, along with the Crimson Tide’s defensive line, Saban and company moved some players around this week resulting in more consistency in the practices following Scrimmage 1, the head coach believed.
With the focus on the inside linebackers the last week -- and really throughout spring practice -- Saban was asked what he saw from the younger defenders during Saturday’s second scrimmage.
“I saw some guys flying around,” Saban said. “I saw some guys miss some tackles. I didn’t feel like we tackled really well, especially the second team. First team did a pretty good job. But people weren’t running their feet on contact, trying to cut tackle, trying to butt people to the ground. And I think they’re finding out that if they don’t tackle them correctly they’re not going to get them on the ground, not when you play against good players.
“So, I think there was improvement there, but certainly the whole idea of playing defense is to tackle the guy with the ball. So, you can do everything right, but if you don’t tackle the guy with the ball, that’s why you’re out there.”
ByCharlie Potter 20 hours ago
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Alabama head coach Nick Saban spoke to reporters during a press conference following the Crimson Tide's second spring scrimmage Saturday afternoon at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Below is everything Saban said in his sixth press conference of the spring.
"I think the big thing that we really try to look for in the second scrimmage is the guys that have played around here and been good players know how to compete. They’ve been in big arenas before. They have mental toughness. They play with discipline. We have high exceptions for how those guys play, and those guys don’t disappoint us. And they didn’t disappoint us today. But the big thing we wanted to see today is we have a lot of young players on our team that have a chance to contribute to the team and play winning football. I think the biggest thing that we’ve been trying to emphasize with them is the mental part of the game is so important. Your ability to focus, mental intensity. Your ability to prepare properly, so you know what to do, how to do it, why it’s important to do it that way. And we were anxious to see more guys able to go out there and play with the kind of intangibles that would allow them to play winning football. Now I haven’t watched the film yet, but I wasn’t totally pleased with the way some of those made improvement and came along. Look, it’s a work in progress. So wherever they are, we’re going to keep working with them to try to get them where they need to be, but we were hopeful that we would make a little more progress."
On Freddie Kitchens at coaching clinic
"Freddie Kitchens made an interesting statement when he spoke to the clinic, and I actually shared it with the players today. We have about five choices in our life: We can be bad at what we do. We can be average at what we do. We can be good at what we do, which is probably God’s expectation for whatever ability he gave us. We can be excellent. Or we can be elite. All right? And everybody has a choice as what they want to do and how they want to do that. But if you’re going to be excellent or elite, you have to do special things. You have to special intensity. You have to have special focus. You have to have a special commitment, drive and passion to do things at a high level and at a high standard all the time. It doesn’t matter what God-given ability you have, that probably can make you good. But without the rest of it, I’m not sure you ever get excellent or elite. And that’s the part we’re trying to get to."
On scrimmage injuries
"We only had Jedrick Wills sprained his ankle today. We don’t know the extend of the injury. We’ll do an MRI. He didn’t come back. We didn’t expect him to come back. We wouldn’t let him come back. So we’ll see what the deal is when we do an MRI and all that probably on Monday. But no other significant injuries to report."
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- An Alabama true freshman worked with the ones on defense Saturday.
“DJ is playing some with the ones at nose,” said Saban following the two-hour, 135-play spring scrimmage. “He’s got good initial quickness, good power, strikes, seems to be pretty conscientious, shows a little maturity about being able to go out there and do his job.”
Dale joined the Alabama football program prior to the team’s appearance in the College Football Playoff. A 4-star recruit out of Pinson, Ala., was the nation’s 18th-ranked defensive tackle and No. 9 player in the state of Alabama for the 2019 cycle, according to the 247Sports Composite.
The Clay-Chalkville High School product has received rave reviews for his efforts on the field this spring, including the first two scrimmages. But the hype didn’t begin when the Tide started its spring practice schedule last month. Soon-to-be NFL draft pick Quinnen Williams showered the early enrollee with praise when he announced his decision to declare for the 2019 draft.
“Well, yeah.” That could have been the answer Alabama Coach Nick Saban gave following the Crimson Tide’s second scrimmage of spring football practice Saturday. He had talked about the number of young players working with the team – including 15 true freshmen who were early enrollees from the 2019 signing class -- and the need for those players to develop in order to build depth.
“It’s a work in progress,” the coach said in pointing out that many of them have not yet reached that level. “We’re going to keep working with them to try to get them where they need to be.”
A few minutes later Saban was asked if the loss of seven 2018 juniors – men who could have returned for a senior season but who elected to go into the NFL draft pool – makes a difference in spring practice.Quinnen Williams made good decision to go out early for NFL draft (Photo: Stuart McNair, 247Sports)
In the past Saban has said that he makes every effort to get good information on “draft grades” for his players to determine if it is a good decision for them to go into the draft. Some are not hard to judge. For instance, defensive tackle Quinnen Williams and offensive tackle Jonah Williams are considered to be high first round selections. Some of the others will be, too, if the mock drafts are accurate.
Others who have departed early are running back Josh Jacobs, tight end Irv Smith, safety Deionte Thompson, linebacker Mack Wilson, and cornerback Savion Smith.
ByCharlie Potter 22 hours ago
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- One of Alabama’s offensive starters sustained an injury Saturday.
Right tackle Jedrick Wills suffered an ankle injury early on in the Crimson Tide’s second scrimmage of the spring at Bryant-Denny Stadium and did not return to the field. Nick Saban explained why.
“Jedrick Wills sprained his ankle today,” Saban said in a press conference. “We don’t know the extent of the injury. We’re doing an MRI. He didn’t come back -- we didn’t expect him to come back. We wouldn’t let him come back. So, we’ll see what the deal is when we do our MRI and all that probably on Monday. But no other significant injuries to report.”
Wills has 16 career starts to his name, including all 15 games as a sophomore. He led the team with 50 knockdown blocks, allowed just one sack this season and surrendered only one hit on the quarterback in 2018. Last year, Wills earned CoSIDA Academic All-District honors for efforts in the classroom and was named SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week for his play against Missouri.
ByDenon McMillan 22 hours ago
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Day 12 of spring brings us back to Bryant-Denny Stadium for Alabama's second scrimmage.
Check out photos from today's practice session.
ByTravis Reier 23 hours ago
Since 2008, BamaOnLine.com's Instant Analysis has been a staple of Crimson Tide football coverage. That won't change in 2019, as we'll continue to provide Alabama fans with insight and interaction fresh from Tuscaloosa via Facebook Live.
As for items we touched on during the latest edition of IA, they included:
* Pre-scrimmage notes.
* Interior offensive line competition.
Go inside Friday's practice at Alabama to watch the Crimson Tide's inside linebackers at work!
Here are several observations from the media viewing portion of Friday’s practice.
The Alabama Golden Flake A-Day Game, scheduled for a 1 p.m. CT kickoff on April 13 at Bryant-Denny Stadium, will include a full day of activities and experiences, including the opportunity for fans to take the field at the conclusion of the game.
The A-Day game will serve as the 15th and final practice of the spring for the Crimson Tide. Gates open at 10 a.m. and admission will once again be free to the public.
It will be the program's 13th A-Day Game under the direction of six-time national championship coach Nick Saban. A myriad of activities punctuates the 2019 Golden Flake A-Day Game that will be televised on ESPN2 with Tom Hart and Todd Blackledge working from the booth while Laura Rutledge calls the game from field level.
Game day will get started with the Mercedes-Benz Fan Fest and the Coca-Cola Kick Off Zone, which will both open at 9 a.m. adjacent to Bryant-Denny Stadium. The Fan Fests will feature giveaways, sampling, the Coca-Cola Kids Zone, live radio remotes, vehicle displays and other fun fan activities open to the general public. Numerous food vendors will also be open on the Walk of Champions Plaza starting at 9 a.m.
Alabama's 2018 Orange Bowl trophy will be on display at the Mercedes-Benz Fan Fest. Free photo opportunities with the trophy will begin at 9 a.m., while former Alabama football players will also be in attendance signing free autographs at the Coca-Cola Kick Off Zone. Check RollTide.com and UA Athletics social media pages for updated appearance confirmations and times.
Nate Oats has reportedly added another assistant coach to his staff at Alabama.
Oats is expected to hire current Windy City Bulls coach Charlie Henry, according to Stadium’s Jeff Goodman. It’s worth noting that previous reports have indicated Henry was set to join Fred Hoiberg at Nebraska as an assistant coach, but no hire has been officially announced.
Henry has experience working with both coaches as he got his start in the profession under Oats at Romulus (Mich.) High School in 2009. He later joined Hoiberg at Iowa State as director of player personnel in 2013 and was later promoted to an assistant in 2014-15. Henry followed Hoiberg to the NBA where he served as an assistant coach for the Chicago Bulls for two years.
Most recently, Henry was the head coach of the Windy City Bulls of the NBA’s G League.
Oats has already filled a few positions on his staff, including one assistant in Bryan Hodgson. Hodgson was Oats’ right-hand man in Buffalo and led the Bulls’ recruiting efforts. Hodgson and director of operations Adam Bauman have joined Oats in Tuscaloosa. Both have been removed from Buffalo’s website and changed their Twitter profiles to reflect their moves to Alabama. Oats is also bringing strength and conditioning coach Mike Snowden, though that is not official yet.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The secondary will be one of Alabama’s most experienced position groups in 2019 as five defensive backs that started in its dime package in at least six games are back.
But one of the players having a quietly productive spring is safety Jared Mayden.
“Jared has really done a nice job for us,” coach Nick Saban said. “He really showed up well in the scrimmage, played really well. Did a good job of tackling, played with more toughness in the game and he’s been pretty consistent. I think he has a pretty good understanding of what is expected of him. I’m very encouraged with his progress and very happy with his performance so far.”
Mayden was the Crimson Tide’s sixth defensive back last season, entering games as a safety in dime formations while McKinney moved down to Money. With Deionte Thompson declaring for the 2019 NFL Draft, Mayden could take over as a full-time safety, though Alabama has options.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Alabama’s three starting receivers, as well as its top reserve, are back for the 2019 season. Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs III, DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle will lead the Crimson Tide’s passing game, along with Tua Tagovailoa, for the second year in a row.
Head coach Nick Saban shared exactly which young receivers have shown promise this spring.
“I think Xavier Williams has made a lot of progress. I think that (John) Metchie has shown flashes and doing things really, really well. I think Slade Bolden has made some plays, and (Tyrell) Shavers is better,” Saban said following Wednesday’s 10th spring practice. “So, I feel much better about the depth at that position than in the past, and I think that’s a good thing.
“And it also helps on special teams because a lot of those guys are good special teams players.”
That’s great for the Crimson Tide and its recent pipeline to the league, both Jacobs and Harris and the positive effect potential draft results like that deliver for recruiting graphic quotes and a lot more. But it also leaves Alabama’s current roster lacking experience for the 2019 season.
Nick Saban, however, is pleased with the next two players up at the running back position.
“I really feel like Najee (Harris) and B-Rob (Brian Robinson) are both really good players,” Saban said during his Wednesday post-practice press conference. “I think both of them have got a significant amount of experience in the past. I think they’re ready to take the next step in terms of making a really significant contribution. They both had really good springs.”
Najee Harris and Brian Robinson are rising juniors and have contributed since their freshman seasons in 2017. Last year, Harris was actually the Tide’s second-leading rusher behind the now-departing Harris, rushing for 783 yards and four touchdowns on 117 carries. The former 5-star recruit’s 6.69 yards per carry average led the team and was second-best in the SEC.
Alabama has recruited the D.C., Maryland and Virginia area very hard over the last couple of recruiting cycles and with Greg Penn receiving an offer from the Tide recently, this Trend shows no sign of slowing down.
Penn is a linebacker in the 2021 recruiting class. He is a product of Dematha Catholic High School in Hyattsville, Maryland,. He considers Alabama’s offer to be a dream come true.
“It is a dream come true to know I have an offer from the school I always dreamed of going to,” Penn said.
The Crimson Tide were able to grab Demarcco Hellams out of Dematha Catholic in 2019. He was joined by other DMV products: Keilan Robinson, Darrian Dalcourt and Shane Lee. The area has also produced current and former Tide players.
Da’Shawn Hand, Jonathan Allen and Terrell Lewis all have roots in the area. Penn said he feels the success the guys before him have had in Tuscalooa has Nick Saban wanting to keep the pipeline going.