These players helped themselves

By virtue of how the squads were divided, the Crimson defenders pretty much had their way in the recent A-Day scrimmage. But besides the predictable good performances by established stars and starters, several lesser-known defensive athletes really helped themselves last Saturday.

Once the rosters were announced, the game's outcome wasn't really in doubt. Fans certainly enjoyed the outstanding performances turned in by players like Antwan Odom, Derrick Pope, Charles Jones and Brooks Daniels. But in this article we won't talk about the solid starters that played well. Rather we'll focus on athletes that improved their stock through their on-the-field performance in the A-Day spotlight.

David Scott played Saturday like the fifth-year senior he is.

One of the biggest surprises in the scrimmage was the excellent play of senior cornerback David Scott. With several younger players vying for playing time, Scott may have been lost in the shuffle a bit the past few weeks. But Saturday he very well may have been the most impressive corner on the field. Playing for the White squad, Scott (5-11, 181) was matched up against the Tide's best receivers--who were being thrown to by No. 1 quarterback Brodie Croyle.

Officially Scott was credited with just two pass deflections, but both saved touchdowns. On the first he was matched up man-to-man on the receiver in the corner of the end zone. As the pass arrived over his man's outside shoulder, Scott calmly turned, jumped and swatted the ball away.

Later in the scrimmage he was matched up on a deep post route over the middle. Scott's man probably had a half step on him, but the senior showed maturity by going up and battling for the football, knocking it harmlessly to the turf. It was an aggressive play, probably bordering on pass interference. But when it's a choice of penalty or touchdown, the wise cornerback does what has to be done.

During spring most of the buzz surrounding back-up cornerbacks was directed toward Thurman Ward and Ramzee Robinson. But determined to make his final season his best, Scott has clearly made himself a man to be reckoned with.

Anderson has found a home at defensive end.

When the flu prevented Leslie Williams from playing Saturday, sophomore Mark Anderson (6-6, 230) stepped into his starting position at defensive end and did not disappoint. A tad undersized right now for the position, Anderson has excellent speed, which he uses to good effect in rushing the passer.

The official stats Saturday credited him with two solo tackles, one of which was a sack for a loss of 13 yards. But on numerous other plays his rush disrupted the play, forcing the opposing quarterback (usually Spencer Pennington) to throw sooner than he wanted to.

Only moved to defensive end from outside linebacker the last two weeks of spring practice, according to Defensive Coordinator Joe Kines Anderson is a natural at the position. Two weeks ago Kines was describing the position move as an experiment--but no longer. Anderson has clearly found a home at defensive end.

"That may have been the smartest move we made all spring," Kines said after the scrimmage.

So far the tenure of Carlos Andrews at Alabama has been marked by more practice-field promise than on-the-field performance. And when spring began with Roman Harper starting ahead of him at strong safety, it didn't look like anything had changed.

Andrews may be ready to step up. (GettyImages)

But if A-Day was any guide, the senior DB appears set to finish his college career with a bang.

At times he seemed to be all over the field. Andrews (6-0, 216) finished as A-Day's leading tackler, totaling nine solo stops. Shaud Williams definitely remembers Andrews. On a first-quarter sweep around right end, the senior tailback briefly appeared to have some running room. But then Andrews raced in, slamming Williams to the grass with a jarring tackle.

Andrews also had his squad's only forced turnover. At 2:10 of the third quarter, Spencer Pennington (then playing for Crimson) attempted a deep pass over the middle. Timing the play perfectly from his safety position, Andrews made a clean pick, returning the interception for 17 yards.

Harper's starting job is probably still safe, but clearly Andrews intends to be a part of next year's playing rotation.

At the critical punting position, the jury is still out on who will trot out on the field on fourth down to hopefully boot the Tide out of trouble. Bo Freeland (6-5, 230) and Jeff Aul (6-2, 200) were bracketed together entering A-Day with several other candidates trailing behind, and that's probably still the case.

Freeland showed promise.

Officially Aul had only one punt, which went for 42 yards. Freeland punted twice for an average of 44.5 yards per effort. However, Freeland's booming 52-yarder toward the end of the scrimmage brought appreciative "Ahhhs" from the crowd, proving his reputation for having a strong leg.

Five athletes punted at least once during A-Day, and that number will almost certainly be pared down by the fall. Freeland needs to work on his technique and consistency, but he definitely helped himself with his performance Saturday.

NOTE: Tomorrow we'll turn our attention to offense, talking about several players believes improved their stock at A-Day.

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