Alabama signed Bradley Sylve as a wide receiver. Sylve was a Scout.com four-star pick who had played in the Under Armour All-America Game, where he was declared the fastest player in the contest and proved it with a 91-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
Sylve, 5-11, 180, had seemed to be the ultimate offensive player at South Plaquemines High in Port Sulphur, La. He began his senior year in 2010 as a wide receiver, but after five games moved to quarterback and led his team to a state runner-up finish. In those final five games he rushed for over 1,200 yards and passed for another 500.
There was a hint, though, that there was more to Sylve. For one thing, he was the Louisiana state champion in both the 100- and 200—meter dashes. He was also selected all-state as a defensive back.
Still, there was that offensive stuff. In 2008 as a prep sophomore he caught passes for 1,174 yards in helping his team to the state championship.
He was redshirted his freshman year at Bama in 2011. It was during that time he approached Tide Coach Nick Saban – who also coaches Alabama cornerbacks – about making the switch to defense.
His prep time on defense in high school had been at safety, but Sylve wanted to be a cornerback.
Sylve said, “When I asked him, he said, ‘Let’s do it.’ So I switched up.”
Sylve said, “I wasn’t really feeling wide receiver.”
In 2012 He played in 12 games in the secondary with two passes broken up and six tackles. In 2013 he was in eight games, including three starts in the secondary. He had two pass break-ups and 10 tackles, but suffered a high ankle sprain that limited him in the second half of the season.
This pre-season, Sylve has been prominently mentioned as a possible starter at cornerback, where Alabama did not have good results last year.
Saban said, “Bradley's done a really good job in camp. He's a guy that's made steady improvement. He never really played a lot of defensive back in high school, didn't play corner. He’s a very conscientious guy that has really developed nicely.
“The big issue with him last year was being able to stay healthy. He became a starter, played for two games, got injured and missed three or four. That's going to be a real key for us in the secondary this year, that we can stay healthy, we can keep some guys healthy so that it will give us some chance to develop some of the younger players and maybe some of the injured guys like Eddie (Jackson) can get back to full-speed.”
Sylve said as he made the transition to cornerback that he got help from former Tide players Dee Milliner and Deion Belue. Milliner, he said, advised him “to focus on what I have to do and meet with my position coaches and just come to work, come to practice every day and work hard.”
He said that the Saban defensive system “is real difficult, but once you sit down your position coaches, meet with them every day, it gets easier.
“I feel a whole lot more comfortable out there. I have a lot of experience out there now. I’ve been meeting with my coaches every day, trying to focus on what I have to do in order for me to get on the field.”