Be honest, now, if you’re of a certain age. When you learned that Alabama football was signing Chris Owens, did you think of some past trip to New Orleans, and not entirely about the Sugar Bowl?
Among the new additions to the Alabama Crimson Tide is a Chris Owens who is far from the 80-something-year-old former burlesque performer and longtime club owner Chris Owens on Bourbon Street.
Alabama’s Chris Owens is a 6-3, 315-pound offensive guard prospect from Lamar High in Arlington, Texas. Owens wasn’t able to see Bama’s 38-0 pounding of Michigan State in his hometown Cotton Bowl setting because Owens was busy with his own post-season game, playing in the Under Armour All-America Game in Orlando. But Owens was able to make it to Tuscaloosa in time to work four practices for Bama prior to the Tide’s win over Clemson in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game.
"It was a little crazy, going from Florida, back to Texas and spending the last week with all my friends and family, then coming right here and getting to work,” Owens said. “It was a little crazy but it was also good."
Owens is one of eight men who signed with Alabama this year and are early enrollees, players who have started classes and will go through the off-season program and spring practice. He is already a member of the National Championship Signing Day Class as Scout named Alabama’s recruiting group as No. 1.
Owens said coming in early for the final practices before Alabama’s team (sans the eight signees) flew to Arizona was beneficial. "I think it's good,” he said. “You get to work out with the team. Especially with a big season like we just had, you can get the mentality of how after you win something, you're not satisfied , and you want to go back and do it again immediately as opposed to waiting a couple months to see how everything goes."
Owens had something of a rude awakening in those few early January practices at Bama. “That first workout,” he said. “It was pretty tough. It kind of let me know that I'm actually here and it's time to work now. We haven't done the real tough part, but it's all hard. I've heard it just gets harder and harder, so I don't want to say anything yet."
Beyond the actual practice time, Owens said, "It feels good to know I can get acclimated early as opposed to coming later on in the fall. I can get the jitters out and by the time fall comes and can just be ready and just play loose."
Owens, a Scout 4-star, is ranked the No. 11 guard prospect in the nation and 170th on the Scout 300. He was the second ranked guard in Texas and the Midlands. He chose Alabama over Oklahoma, Texas, and Texas A&M.
He said that he thinks early arrival is particularly important for offensive linemen. “You never know if the coaches want you to gain weight or lose weight,” he said. It’s hardly surprising that Owens has been told to shed some of that 315.
“I’m working on it right now,” he said.
Moreover, he said, “You want to be able to compete for a spot, so you'll be able to get that in your head early, and then adjust accordingly as opposed to if you came later, then they kind of threw it all to you at once, you'd be behind the ball a little bit."
In the spring he wants to have lost the weight and wants to be stronger, the better to get better and compete.
In these early weeks of being at The University, he said the adjustment has been smooth. He has become aware that a national championship program has a certain expectation for its new class. “They want you to be as hungry as the seniors were,” he said. “Once you do that and everyone’s on board, then you have a chance to do it again. That’s exactly what I want. It’s exactly why I came here.”
At Alabama, he said, “You can never be complacent or satisfied. You just have to always want to get better. Even if you do win a national championship, you celebrate for a little and then get ready for the next season. Because everyone else is coming at you because you have a target on your back."