Alabama Football Practice Begins

There may be a week or two during the course of the year where major college football players are away from the game, but the days are few and far between. Once upon a time there was spring practice and fall practice and the season. Now there's a good bit of off-season work, too.

But spring training is still important. Whereas the players will be in conditioning drills or even in pass skeleton work between seasons, those workouts lack an essential ingredient: Coaches.

Alabama Coach Nick Saban and his assistants – including three new ones, two of them Saban retreads – will join the players at the Thomas-Drew practice fields Saturday for the first of 15 spring practice sessions. The final session, and the only one open to the public, will be the A-Day Game at Bryant-Denny Stadium on April 19.

Alabama is expected to have the NCAA allotment of three scrimmages in the spring. The A-Day Game counts as one of those and the others are expected to be April 5 and April 12.

As has been the case in recent years, Alabama spring practice will be interrupted for about 10 days by The University's spring break, March 21-31. Tentatively, Alabama will have four practices before the break.

Alabama's two new assistants on defense are Bo Davis, working with the offensive line, and Kevin Steele, who will tutor inside linebackers. Both have been on the Bama staff under Saban previously. Defensive Coordinator Kirby Smart, who had worked with linebackers the past couple of years, is going back to work with safeties, which has been his primary position in his career.

The one new assistant on offense is Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach Lane Kiffin, formerly head coach at Tennessee and most recently head coach at USC, where he was fired early last season.

Saban has pointed out that there will be competition for all positions, but that there is particularly interest in what happens at those spots where starters have departed, either through the end of eligibility and/or graduation and/or entry into the NFL.

Ordinarily, primary interest would be on the quarterback position, where A.J. McCarron was starter the past three years. The competition for that spot, though, is not expected to reach its zenith until fall practice, when transfer Jacob Coker from Florida State joins those already on campus – Blake Sims, Alec Morris, Cooper Bateman, Robert McLeod, and David Cornwell.

Other key losses from last season are wide receivers Kevin Norwood and Kenny Bell, left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio, right guard Anthony Steen, defensive ends Ed Stinson and Jeoffrey Pagan, outside linebacker Adrian Hubbard, inside linebacker C.J. Mosley, cornerback Deion Belue, safeties HaHa Clinton-Dix and Vinnie Sunseri, punter Cody Mandell, and placekicker Cade Foster.

Returning starters include tailback T.J. Yeldon, wide receivers DeAndrew White, Amari Cooper and Christion Jones, tight end Brian Vogler, H-back Jalston Fowler, left guard Arie Kouandjio, center Ryan Kelly, right tackle Austin Shepherd, nose tackle Brandon Ivory, outside linebackers Denzel Devall and Xzavier Dickson, inside linebacker Trey DePriest, cornerbacks Bradley Sylve and Cyrus Jones, and safety Landon Collins.

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