Black Injury Casts Pall On Tide Work

Alabama will have its first scrimmage of fall camp on Saturday. On Thursday, it was learned that the Crimson Tide has already lost a player to a season-ending injury.

Alabama Coach Nick Saban had warned earlier in the week that freshman wide receiver Chris Black was being examined for a shoulder injury, and suggested it didn't look good. Black, who entered The University last January and took part in spring drills, was injured late in Bama's practice in helmets, shoulder pads, and shorts on Sunday at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

On Thursday Saban said Black will have surgery and probably will be out for three or four months.

"He was doing extremely well," Saban said. "He had a really good spring. He had a great summer and is in great shape. He was doing a really good job and he wants to play so bad he can't see straight. but this is one of those unfortunate things. We feel bad for him but everybody here is going to be very, very supportive. He's going to be an excellent player for us in the future."

This Saturday, Alabama will return to Bryant-Denny and will have its first scrimmage of fall camp. Saban said the staff will look at young players to determine "who are the football players. Who can go out there, react, and make plays. And they may not know or do exactly what they're supposed to do. They're good tacklers on defense, they're good runners on offense, they're good receivers, they're good blockers. Whatever their circumstances may be. And then those are going to be the right guys for us to coach.

"I think it's probably too early, especially with the young players on our team, to be trying to define a role for some of these guys. Some of these guys will have a role on our team. We have some really good size and speed guys in this freshman class. A lot of these guys have shown they'll probably be contributors on special teams, for sure. Those are the kind of guys that we're going to continue to develop and try to coach."

On Wednesday Alabama had the first of a handful of days in which the Tide will have two practices. Saban said the Tide did well in both the morning and evening workouts. "I think the players were energized by the fact that it was a little more comfortable situation for them," Saban said. He said much of the work had been on "specialty kind of stuff...two-mionute work or empty [backfield] of work on play-action passes, a lot of things like that.

"I see a lot of improvement on our team."

Saban said, "I think that some guys we're still trying to get to be able to play with the kind of intangibles that we need for them to make the kind of improvement that we need them to make to be successful. I'm talking about things like effort and toughness and being responsible for doing their job, not thinking they have to make every play but to do their job and that if everybody does their job we'll have the best opportunity to be successful. If one person doesn't, we've just enhanced our chances of failing.

"Leadership is an important part of developing that we have guys that set a good example and can impact other folks with their confidence, even when things don't go right. I think that's what leadership can have an impact on, and I think that's important when you have a young team."

Speaking of leadership, Alabama players are hearing from different speakers during fall camp as part of Saban's overall development program. A variety of experts, many with dramatic life experiences, share their stories with the players as a part of the character-building Saban considers necessary to team success.

Saban also confirmed that Brandon Hill, an offensive lineman signed last February, did not qualify academically. The coach said there were "some special circumstances surrounding the case" and that the decision had been appealed, but to no avail. He said that Hill was close to qualifying and that it is hoped that he can gain eligibility in time to join the team in January. It has been widely reported that Hill will attend prep school at Hargrave Academy in Virginia.

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