Can Sunseri Hold On To Top Spot?

It is likely that those attending the A-Day Game on April 20 will most remember Vinnie Sunseri for his interception of an AJ McCarron pass and runback of 86 yards for a touchdown as time expired in the second quarter.

Alabama has a number of traditions, including the one that the winning team in the A-Day Game enjoys a steak dinner, while the losing team eats "beans and weenies" a few days after the spring game. As A.J. McCarron said following the game, "I'm just glad I'm eating steak.

Meanwhile, upcoming junior safety Vinnie Sunseri was one of the stars of the game with his interception and return, but, alas, was not at a steak table.

McCarron said, "Vinnie and I always go back and forth. Whenever I get the chance, I go at him, so I can talk to him later on and mess with him about it later on. It's all in fun."

In truth, McCarron and Sunseri are also "competing" for the same job. At least sort of. For the past two years, McCarron has been the holder on extra points and field goals. With a right-footed kicker, that means McCarron's right (throwing) side is exposed to a blind rush as he's in that vulnerable kneeling position. McCarron may continue as the hold in 2013, but during the spring Sunseri was also getting work as a holder.

At least he was until his interception runback. The extra point team with Adam Griffith kicking for the Crimson squad, ran onto the field, but Sunseri tapped his helmet, the signal to the bench that he needed to come out. He was too pooped to hold. "I was too tired to do anything," he said. "All I could do was jog off the field."

Sunseri said his play was a credit "to everyone around me. I'm pretty sure Amari Cooper would have run me down; he's a lot faster than I am. But Geno Smith came back with a good block."

Sunseri added that he saw McCarron trying to run him down, but knew he could beat the quarterback to the end zone. Which reminded him that a year earlier he had intercepted McCarron, but had been denied the touchdown because the officials ruled the play dead on the assumption that McCarron could have caught Sunseri.

"But we all know he can't tackle," Sunseri said.

Sunseri concluded, "It was a good day. We competed a lot and made a lot of plays. We have a lot to grow on, but it was a good day."

A-Day is a fun time for the players, but it is also part of serious work.

"We were on different teams (on A-Day)," Sunseri said, "but we're all one unit.

"Like Coach Saban said, we have a lot of guys who are giving a lot of effort, a lot of guys who have improved, a lot of guys who have stepped up in big roles, but we also have a couple of guys who are trying to learn and haven't done exactly what we need to do. I told them in the locker room we're going to take May off, gather yourselves, get your bodies back under you, and when we come back in the summer it's a whole new thing. We're making sure everyone's giving it 100 per cent every single day, and if you don't we're going to get you know."

Sunseri (6-0, 210) said he knew at the end of spring that he is "not where I need to be. We've got a lot of guys who can step up right now, so I'm trying to improve as much as I can."

An almost certain starter in the secondary is HaHa Clinton-Dix, who started at safety much of last season alongside the departed Robert Lester. The question has been who would be alongside Clinton-Dix.

On the last day of spring, it was the decision of Coach Nick Saban that Vinnie Sunseri was that other safety.

But as Sunseri said, there are others capable of stepping up. Nick Perry (6-1, 212, senior) began to show up a lot late last season and was in the mix in the spring. Many consider Landon Collins (6-0, 215, sophomore) and up-and-coming star. Jarrick Williams (6-1, 210, junior) is coming back from knee surgery that kept him out all last season. Eddie Jackson (6-0, 175, freshmen) will enter the competition this fall. And an interesting safety prospect is former Major League baseball player Jai Miller (6-3, 213), who has returned to school as a freshman walk-on safety candidate for the Tide.

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