Notebook: No spring break for Alabama

Next week might be spring break at Alabama, but to the players, it's just another week to keep getting better as there's not time for rest when there's competition on the depth chart.

It seems like yesterday that Alabama finished up its 2012 season with another national championship in the books.

Well, it wasn't yesterday, but it was 73 days ago.

The Crimson Tide began spring practices last Saturday, but hasn't gotten much rest since coming home from Miami. Before getting back on the field, players underwent Nick Saban's famous "Fourth Quarter Program" that's led by strength coach Scott Cochran and Wednesday, everyone was back in pads.

Next week is spring break at the University, but that doesn't mean the players will be getting a break then, either.

"Spring break is a break, but there's no offseason when it comes to football," said safety HaHa Clinton-Dix. "There's always someone trying to get ahead of you and do something while you're sleeping. So you can take a break if you want to, but there's always going to someone, somewhere, somehow."

In the spring, the depth chart is wide open. No one's starting spot from the previous season is safe. The competition is at its highest.

"I wanted to go to Miami and lay down on the beach and sip some Pina Coladas, but I play football for Alabama," left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio said when asked about his spring break plans. "I think the best thing to do is to go home and train."

Kounadjio said he and his brother Arie are going home to Hyattsville, Md. and will spend their week working out together.

"Success is continuous, that's what coach says," Cyrus said. "If I'm on the beach [at home on the Chesapeake Bay], I'm probably running."

The new Barrett Jones

There's a new center in town and his name is Ryan Kelly.

The redshirt freshman is expected to succeed Barrett Jones as Alabama's starting center and according to Kouandjio, he's the perfect man for the job.

"He's the most professional person I know," Kouandjio said. "He's really serious and that's the perfect center right there. Really tough. I trust him 100 percent. I trust him as much as I trust Barrett Jones. I think it's looking good for him."

Jones is a perfectionist and his stellar play on the field—in several different positions—made that obvious. But Kouandjio has gone as far as saying that Kelly is even more strict than his predecessor.

"He's really organized and like Barrett, his grades are pretty good," Kouandjio said. "He's just an all-around serious person. Even his demeanor is just like a center is supposed to be."

Kouandjio, who's locker is right next to Kelly's, says he knows Kelly, "like the back of my hand."

That's the best center right there," he said.

Recruiting Nick Saban

After UA announced that athletics director Mal Moore would be stepping down due to health reasons Wednesday, Saban gave reporters an anecdote about the time Moore lured him away from the Miami Dolphins.

"The first thing he did was he recruited Terry," Saban said, smiling. "I wasn't even going to talk to him. I called Terry and said, ‘I don't think I'm even going to talk to these guys tonight.' She said, ‘Oh, Mal's already here. We've been talking for an hour.'

"That was his first step in the right direction."

Saban went on to say that he's always had a "special respect" for Moore, even during his LSU days.

"As a coach, you always really have a special appreciation for the other coaches who are AD's." he said. "When I first came into the league, there were a whole bunch of coaches—whether it's Vince Dooley, Frank Broyles, all kinds of guys, even coach [Roy] Kramer was the [SEC] commissioner, that were former coaches. There's something about that that you have a special respect for, so I always had that for Mal.

"Mal has really become a good friend and somebody that I have a tremendous amount of respect for. I'm happy for him. I'll be most happy for him if he can get healthy and be around here with us. But I'm gonna miss him."


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