Dial, Williams Have Some Advantages

Josh Chapman is a known. He's the returning starter at nose tackle. There has been talk about others on the defensive line, but the competition will sort things out over the next few weeks.



Alabama is not quite halfway through fall camp, coming up on the second of two scrimmage practices. Crimson Tide Coach Nick Saban discussed some of the men who are competing on the defensive line Tuesday and said that a couple of junior college transfers "have made an impact."

The two are Quinton Dial and Jesse Williams. Saban didn't say they would be starting when Bama opens the season September 3 hosting Kent State, but he did say "Those two are in our top four at defensive end in some kind of way. I don't know who our starters are at that position right now. We think we have four guys who are capable."

Nose tackle is in good hands with Josh Chapman returning to start and fellow senior Nick Gentry an experienced back-up.

Damion Square, a 6-3, 284-pound junior, and Ed Stinson, a 6-4, 252 pound sophomore, have been considered high on the depth chart at defensive end. It is well known that Saban likes big men at end. Dial is 6-5, 310, and Williams is 6-4, 340.

Saban didn't leave out the possibilities of younger players, including freshmen, and Undra Billingsley, a 6-2, 269-pound junior, being in the mix.

But, Saban said, Dial and Williams "have made a ton of progress since the spring, Jesse and Quinton both. They are a little older and stronger guys."

Both Dial and Williams entered Alabama last January and went through spring practice. That has given them "confidence in what they are supposed to do," Saban said. "Typically what happens when they come into fall camp is -- if a guy hasn't been here before and even some of the young guys who have been here in the spring -- they hit the wall a little bit this time of year. They kind of make progress, they hit the wall a little bit, and at some point in time they ind of catch back up mentally and get confidence in what they are doing, and you start to see them make progress again.

"I think all the new guys in the program at some point in time in these first 13 or 14 practices have done that, but those two older guys have been able to sustain a little better, and I think that's because of their maturity.

"I think that's the key to young guys playing, is do they have enough maturity to sustain the level of intensity and effort that you have to have to learn to do all this stuff, and then how fast you have to do it. And that's the thing that showed up in the scrimmage with a lot of young guys and we hope to see a lot of improvement in the next scrimmage with those young guys."

The Alabama coach was asked specifically about three of those young defensive linemen --Brandon Ivory, Jeoffrey Pagan, D.J. Pettway?

"They are all doing fine," Saban said. "They are making progress. But each one of those guys I think maybe got a little bit overloaded with new information and knowledge in terms of assignments, and then they begin to worry about what to do and then they forget about how to do it. And they don't have an idea of why it's important to do it that way because they can't see the big picture yet. But I see those guys sort of making progress.

"Another thing that is important to our team is that guys play with good intangibles, and that's something that most of these guys that we recruit don't really understand. They've always been better than everyone else so they haven't had to play with the kind of effort and toughness and intensity. Haven't had to think enough about what they need to do to execute in terms of scheme. And that's something they have to learn. All those guys are making very good progress, but they really don't understand they have to improve to catch up with some of the guys who have been here and done it a lot and have that kind of maturity.

"But there's not a single freshman out there we are disappointed in. I think each and every one is making progress at a different rate. Some guys are making it at a fast enough rate that they could contribute this year."

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