Bolden finally settled at corner

In case anyone asks, Hirchel Bolden would like to set the record straight. He's quite happy where he is--cornerback for the Crimson Tide. That means that, unlike last year, you won't see him lining up as a wide receiver. And if Bolden has anything to say about it, you won't see him on the bench either.

"I'm fine with [cornerback]," Bolden said. "Last year, there were some misunderstandings between me and the coaches."

Misunderstandings?

After a difficult sophomore year in which he asked to be moved to offense, Bolden has found a new lease on life under Dennis Franchione and the new coaching staff.

"About playing time and whatever like that," Bolden said, hesitant to elaborate much further.

After starting the year as a second-string cornerback, Bolden played sparingly at wide receiver during the final four games last year. The experiment didn't work, and Bolden was moved back to the secondary for spring practices.

Back in the defensive backfield, Bolden is a new man. Since new coach Dennis Franchione's arrival in December, Bolden has wracked up honors for his work on the practice field and in the weight room.

He was voted the most improved defensive back after spring practice, he set records during the Night of Champions weight-lifting exhibition and, to top it off, he was elected to serve on the players' Leadership Council.

"Really, I didn't think I would get picked," Bolden said of his selection to the council. "Switching from offense to defense, I didn't think I would get enough respect for what I can do and what I can't do. It shows I have some kind of pull towards the players. They look up to me."

As a true freshman, Bolden played in every game, totaling 18 tackles (one for a loss), one pass breakup and forced one fumble. During his second year, he once again saw action every Saturday, including starts against Vanderbilt and Southern Miss. Twelve tackles (one for a loss) and one pass breakup were his sophomore stats.

In the weight room, Bolden set a record for defensive backs with a 440-pound squat. "I give it all to [strength and conditioning] Coach [Ben] Pollard," Bolden said. "He pushes everybody to compete."

Last year, the Alabama secondary was hardly one of the team's strengths. With four starters gone, some fear this year won't be much better.

Bolden finished spring No. 1 at right cornerback

But Bolden said he thinks his fellow defensive backs are better than last year's group. "We can do what we did last year, plus more," he said. "We have more speed and more talent."

What's left in the secondary? Senior Reggie Myles is back at safety. Junior Gerald Dixon is the frontrunner for one of the cornerback spots. To earn the other spot, Bolden is battling sophomore Carlos Andrews and promising redshirt freshman Thurman Ward.

"So far, I believe Gerald Dixon has got his side secure," Bolden said. "But me and Thurman Ward, if I'm not mistaken, are battling it out for the No. 1 spot. He's a good athlete, so it'll be a good competition."


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