Running short on workout time

Besides improving a player's athleticism, lifting weights is extremely valuable in preventing injuries. Some injuries happen almost no matter what, but the stronger, better-conditioned player has a better chance of avoiding them.

(Above left) Senior receiver Zach Fletcher cleans the weight. Last season Fletcher really didn't get as much playing time as he deserved, but he made the most of his chances, averaging 27.6 yards per catch. He and Brodie Croyle especially developed a chemistry. Two passes from Croyle to Fletcher went for 50 yards or more.

Senior free safety Charles Jones pauses before making the lift. Probably Bama's most underrated player on defense, last season Jones was third on the team in tackles. He also had two interceptions and forced a team high three fumbles.

Fans have been wondering about the availability of Antonio Carter (shown on the flat bench press), but he is adamant that he will be ready by the time fall camp begins. Nursing tendinitis associated with the now-healed stress fracture in his leg, AC is being careful with his rehab. The senior receiver enters the 2003 season with an outside chance at breaking Bama's career receptions mark.

Did you ever get the feeling people are watching you?
With his teammates looking on, Derrick Pope prepares to lift the weight. Despite essentially sharing the middle linebacker position with Freddie Roach, Pope still finished with 65 tackles, fifth-best on the team. (Left to right behind: Chris Harris, Leslie Williams, Charles Jones and Kenneth Darby)

One of the best weight lifters on the team, Evan Mathis presses the weight over his head. The big junior tackle is still hurting from off-season surgery to repair a stress fracture in his leg, but he reports that it'll take more than a broken bone to keep him from playing this season. Remarkably, despite being in so much pain he couldn't warm up properly, Mathis set two position records during testing last spring: 4.82 in the 40-yard dash and 35 inches for the vertical jump.

No. 2 cleans while No. 1 looks on. Spencer Pennington (lifting the weight) proved in the spring that he could be a capable back-up. That's good news for Brodie Croyle (just behind Pennington) and Tide fans, because it's extremely rare for a quarterback to make it through an entire season without missing some time due to injury. (That's Triandos Luke watching to the left. P.J. Fletcher and Nautyn McKay-Loescher are behind Croyle.)

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