Spring Football Is Time Of Hope

Hope springs eternal in the spring, and such is the case with the Alabama football team, which just completed spring practice. One great example is a man who feels he's returned to the good old days, as in pre-injury.

   "I feel like my old self," said Alabama redshirt junior linebacker Dont'a Hightower, who made five tackles, including a sack and added three quarterback hurries in Saturday's A-Day scrimmage, won by the Crimsons, 14-10.

Hightower added, "I'm back in shape. My weight's down. It feels great."

Tide Coach Nick Saban singled Hightower out as a leader who has stepped up this spring.

"I feel like we've got the right leadership," Hightower said. "It‘s a lot better than it was last year. This year, we‘ve got just as much leadership as we had in 2009, with guys like Javy Arenas and Rolando McLain.

"We have a lot more experience in the front seven than we do in the secondary. Coach Saban wants the linebackers to make more plays.

"I feel like we played pretty good as a defense. Trent (Richardson) made a couple of plays where guys were not wrapping up."

Richardson said the Tide offense had a successful spring, the way he saw it.

"From where we were last year, I think we're going to be a pretty good offensive ball team," said Richardson, who added, "I'm trying to be a better leader and a better player. I'm just trying to lead this team back to the Promised Land."

As for the move of Barrett Jones to left tackle this week, Richardson is all for it.

"I love it. Barrett Jones is going to block no matter where you put him. If you put him at receiver, he'll make blocks there, too."

Jones said he's learned a lot after three straight practices as left tackle.

"I feel like I knew a lot about playing guard, but it's a whole new world out there," Jones said, "but I feel like I've gotten a lot better at it the last few days. Sometimes, it's good to get out of your comfort zone. I'm willing to play anywhere to help the team.

"We want to get back to being physical in the running game."

One man who is making Jones a better left tackle is Jack linebacker Courtney Upshaw. Said Jones, "If you take one wrong step, (Upshaw) will make you pay. Courtney's a great player. Look at the guy. He's a physical specimen."

Upshaw was credited with six tackles, two for a loss, and one quarterback hurry.

One thing Saban stressed in his post-scrimmage press conference was the continued search for a third receiver behind senior starters Marquis Maze and Darius HanksBrandon Gibson showed he wants to be that man Saturday, with five grabs for 53 yards.

"I think I did pretty well. I did a lot of work this spring on my release and my route-running," said the senior from Mobile. "(New receivers) coach (Al) Groh tells us to be a technician.

"We're improving as a (receiving) unit, our offensive line has improved, but we're also improving as an entire team."

And that improvement, on both sides of the football, is exactly what Saban and staff were looking for during the squad's 15 spring workouts.

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