Pagan Sees Chance For Bigger Role

If the door is going to open for a guy who is 6-4 and 290 pounds, it has got to open up pretty wide. Either that, or he can knock it down. The door in question is to playing time on the defensive line on the 2013 Alabama football team, and with the loss of two of the three starters, there is an opening.

Jeoffrey Pagan, an upcoming junior from Asheville, N.C., has had some success in his first two years at Alabama. As he pointed out, "I've got two national championships and an SEC championship. I feel like they've been a success. I've gotten better, I've grown as a person, I've learned from great players. I think it's been a success so far."

He also has been pleased with spring practice, which is nearing the halfway mark with six workdays completed. The next practice will be Saturday, the first scrimmage of the spring.

"I feel like we've all improved in some kind of way," Pagan said. "I feel like our spring is going to be very productive."

Pagan's task is to improve to increase his playing time. In looking at his personal time line, Pagan said, "As a freshman, I didn't play very much, but I did help. That opened my eyes up to the speed of the game. Last year, I got to help out a lot more. Now my role is starting to expand a little more. Just being able to play the game itself has just really helped me know where I was at with the game."

In last year's national championship season, Pagan was in on 23 tackles, including four for lost yardage, and was in on two sacks. He also had two quarterback pressures and caused a fumble.

Gone from last year's defensive starting front is nose tackle Jesse Williams and end Damion Square. (Ed Stinson is a returning starter at end.)

Pagan said, "We lost some really good guys from the D-line and that just opened up doors for younger players like myself to come in and be able to help out and actually play a role. I feel like my role is actually greater than it was. I have an opportunity to do something special. There's no depth chart, but I really think that with my skills that I could definitely contribute to the team."

He's not alone in trying to get through the door to playing time, though.

"It gets kind of crazy but at the end of the day, we're all pretty talented and all those guys I play with are talented," Pagan said. "I'm willing to line up with any of them. They're all great guys and I trust all of them."

Particularly Stinson, the lone returning starter.

"Ed's like the ‘old guy' on the D-line," Pagan said. "He's like the father. He's like somebody we can always go to if we need help. He's just somebody that knows the game and he's very helpful to anything we need from him."

Pagan is working towards replacing Damion Square, a three-year starter at defensive end who has graduated – possibly to the NFL. Square said last winter in Miami in preparation for the BCS National Championship Game that Pagan would be a more than adequate replacement this year.

Pagan said, "I learned a lot from Damion. Damion was like my right-hand man when he was here. He taught me just about everything I know, everything the coaches didn't, Damion taught me everything. I give props to Damion because he's really helped my game a lot."

Spring is a time of experimentation, and that means that Pagan has continued to get some work at nose. But it looks like others will man that position. Pagain said, "Brandon Ivory and Darren Lake, Wilson Love. All three of those guys are hard-nosed and work very hard. I've taken reps with all three of them. I'd line up with any of them and be confident that they'll all three get the job done."

Pagan has an idea of where he needs to improve. He calls himself a good run-stopper and a man who needs to improve in pass rush. "I'm going to try to do a little big of both and become balanced in both," he said.

He also recognizes good competition. Xzavier Dickson has been an outside linebacker, but has also worked at defensive end this spring. "Xzavier is doing good," Pagan said. "He's battling at both positions. Xzavier could really line up either way. Wherever he's at, he's going to make an impact."

A new man on the scene is 6-2, 266-pound redshirt freshman Dalvin Tomlinson. "I call Dalvin a different man," Pagan said. "He's got big hands, he's big, strong, powerful, he's fast. Dalvin's definitely somebody I think is going to come in and be able to make an impact on the D-line. Definitely help this team with pass rush because we struggled a little bit with the pass rush. I think Dalvin can definitely help us out in that area."

While the defensive line is being rebuilt to some extent, it is going against an offensive line that lost three of five starters from last year. Pagan said, "We did lose some really good offensive linemen. The guys we have are young, but I have confidence in them. They work hard and I believe they'll get the job done."

The offensive and defensive linemen share one thing in common, Pagan said. They all came to Alabama to be the best.

Pagan said it was a matter of "playing under Nick Saban and being in a program like this. There is no downside. I figured if I wanted to be the best, I had to play with the best. That's why I came here."

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