TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Even though the University of Alabama canceled classes on Wednesday because of storms and the potential for tornadoes in the area, the football team held practice as usual this week.
Needless to say, veteran Crimson Tide players didn’t give it a second thought. While the rest of the student body got a day off to watch movies, play video games and maybe catch up on their schoolwork, football players knew the schedule wouldn’t be changed unless something was imminent.
“I had some freshmen text me this morning asking me if practice was going to be canceled,” safety Ronnie Harrison said Wednesday afternoon. “You kind of remind them that this is Alabama. This why we’re so successful. We do stuff like this. We have practices even though school is canceled. Just reminding them what it takes to be great.”
Left guard Ross Pierschbacher gave a simple one-word answer to explain it to reporters: “Bama”
He later elaborated: “Just being tough and this is what this place is about. Just being a part of the process.”
As the team reached the midway point of spring practices, there’s no questioning its focus even though it is only April.
Here are other things we learned this week.
- In terms of position battles, one might be brewing at right tackle. Sophomore Matt Womack took reps with the first unit, but Alabama moved early enrollee Alex Leatherwood, a consensus 5-star prospect in the 2016 signing class, to the second unit.
- While the right side of the offensive line remains a work in progress, the left side looks all but set with sophomore Jonah Williams having moved from right tackle. “He said he feels maybe even more comfortable on the left than the right, which is surprising to me,” Pierschbacher said. “He’s done a really good job. He’s the type of guy that if he sets him mind to it, he’s going to achieve it. He really wanted to get that left tackle spot and he’s done everything to earn it.”
- Two players who seem to be more in the mix are sophomore defensive lineman Raekwon Davis and freshman defensive back Xavier McKinney. During a drill in which the defensive line went four wide on Friday, Davis was the fourth player. McKinney appeared to be getting extra work in the dime package.
- A constant spring theme has been the development of sophomore quarterback Jalen Hurts. He hasn’t worked with a quarterback coach since the end of last season, but he did work with his brother, Averion Hurts, who is four years older. As a senior last season, Averion was the starting quarterback at Texas Southern. “It’s something I’ve always done with him when I’m home,” Jalen said. “Even before I came to Alabama we worked drills and just basic things to work on and get better.”
- Harrison is ready to try to become the hardest hitter on the Crimson Tide, which had unofficially belonged to linebacker Reuben Foster. When asked who it is now, Harrison responded: “Me. Me and Mack Wilson.”
- Alabama’s annual coaching clinic appears to be as popular as ever, as the practice sideline was jammed full on onlookers on Friday. Navy’s Ken Niumatalolo was a guest speaker earlier in the day. Other expected speakers for what’s being called the “Clinic of Champions” are Dan Quinn, Bill O’Brien, David Cutcliffe and Tony Sparano. Alabama will hold its first scrimmage of the spring at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The scrimmage is closed to the public.
- There’s been no change in the status of injured players. Running backs Bo Scarbrough (leg) and B.J. Emmons (foot) continue to wear black no-contact jerseys and go through individual drills with teammates. Linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton (knee) and safety Jared Mayden (hip) have been more limited.