The Alabama football team worked out in shorts and helmets, completing their 11th spring practice. ">
The Alabama football team worked out in shorts and helmets, completing their 11th spring practice. ">

High school coaches crowd practice

With hundreds of high school coaches on hand to watch practice in association with the annual coaches' clinic, Alabama got in an "enthusiastic" practice in preparation for tomorrow's scrimmage. <br><br>The Alabama football team worked out in shorts and helmets, completing their 11th spring practice.

Calling the high school coaches "the breath and soul of this program," Tide Head Coach Mike Price noted that "almost 400" coaches attended the weekend clinic.

The Tide coaches and former Bama offensive coordinator Homer Smith spoke at clinic sessions Friday. Saturday morning the coaching staffs from the state champions in the various divisions will address the clinic.

"Some of the drills that we did before practice were for the high school coaches," Price noted. "It's important that they feel appreciated and feel welcomed to our practices."

Friday was also Bama's third and final "shorts day," mandated by NCAA rules. "I thought the spirit was good," Price said. "A lot of the players' high school coaches were there, so the players performed pretty hard. They had all kinds of enthusiasm and pep. Taking the pads off probably helped, too. Shortening practice helped."

Friday's practice concluded with another "fun" session. This time four staff members, representing the offense and defense, attempted short field goals. Director of Football Operations Randy Ross and Equipment Manager Tank Conerly kicked for the defense, while Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Ben Pollard and Head Trainer Rodney Brown carried the offense's banner.

Ross, Conerly and Pollard all missed, but Brown calmly booted his effort straight down the middle. "I think we've found our field goal kicker," Price joked afterwards. "The players carried Rodney off the field and gave him the game ball. We're checking on his eligibility now."

Saturday's scrimmage will take place in the afternoon and will be held at the Drew-Thomas Practice fields. "We'll do kickoffs tomorrow," Price said. "The only thing we won't do live tomorrow is kickoff coverage. It'll probably be mainly our best players playing against our best players tomorrow. We'll get after it. We'll warm up and should be started by about 2:25."

Traditionally the next-to-last spring scrimmage is more "serious" than A-Day, with the coaches backing off somewhat for the final workout. But Price has different plans this year.

"We're going to do everything we can to make the A-Day scrimmage a real game," he said. "I want to put the pressure on the players and coaches. I want to get a game-like feel. I need that experience. The staff has never coached together in a game, let alone at Alabama.

"The more people we get to the (A-Day) game the better prepared we'll be."


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