March 25, 2009
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - A rain-soaked day forced the Alabama football inside on Wednesday as the team strapped on full pads for the first time this spring for a two-hour practice at the Hank Crisp Indoor Facility.
The Crimson Tide linebacker corps has focused on versatility during the early stages of spring workouts with several returners seeing action at different positions as they learn to play multiple positions within the unit.
"We are trying to develop multiples in players and flexibility in players by moving them around so we increase their flexibility in terms of how they can contribute to the team," Alabama head coach Nick Saban said. "It gives us more options in how we can fit in players in the future to get the best players on the field. But to do it you have to go through the growing pains of developing those guys at different positions."
Dont'a Hightower saw extensive action at the jack linebacker spot in passing situations in the Sugar Bowl and the Tide want to see what he can do in more extended action at the position during the spring. The coaching staff is also taking a look at Cory Reamer at inside linebacker.
"We have six or seven linebackers that we are looking at, at different positions," Saban said. "We are going to come out of spring practice knowing what the best combination of those guys are and where can we have an opportunity for a young guy to play next year, if we have one."
Tight end Colin Peek is also a key for Alabama during the spring. He sat out last season after transferring from Georgia Tech and should figure prominently into the Tide's plan at tight end. The tall and athletic Peek should be a valuable asset catching passes as well as blocking.
"It is definitely rewarding to have the chance to be back on the field this year," Peek said. "I've gotten both sides of the experience; sitting on the sideline for a year and now you get a chance to get back in the action.
"It was great to have a year to get acclimated to how Coach Saban runs the program and the practices. I'm excited to be back in the mix on the field and excited to have a chance to contribute."
Alabama will practice again on Friday and Saturday as the Crimson Tide work toward A-Day on April 18 at Bryant-Denny Stadium.