Remarkable recovery continues

Just two days of spring practice have passed, but already quarterback Spencer Pennington may be the surprise of the season.

Having undergone serious surgery to repair a dislocated shoulder on his right (throwing) side, most pundits and coaches predicted Pennington's spring work would involve not much more than light throwing and a lot of watching.

But he's proved the pessimists wrong.

"I feel good," Spencer Pennington told in an interview following Tuesday's workout. "I get to come out here and throw during spring, and I didn't think I'd have the opportunity to do that."

Though he says he first injured the shoulder in high school, Pennington dislocated the joint again late in the Georgia game. After sitting out several weeks, he came back to help in a back-up role. But after the season the doctors did more tests and decided that surgery was needed.

With the spring practice calendar being moved up almost a full month, so that the team can finish before spring break, most of the pre-practice talk centered on either third-stringer Marc Guillon or No. 1 Brodie Croyle, who's coming off shoulder surgery of his own. (Croyle's was on his non-throwing side and was done before Spencer's.)

Recovering remarkably fast from shoulder surgery, Pennington has thrown very well so far in spring practice.

But Tuesday Pennington was out there for all individual drills, all one-on-one work and walk-throughs. It wasn't until late in the day that he watched anything from the sideline.

"My shoulder feels really nice," Pennington said. "I've progressed well. I'm really pleased with how (my shoulder rehabilitation) is going so far."

Head Coach Mike Shula is grateful for the quick recovery, but he's also said firmly that the staff would not let Pennington do too much. So how many graduate assistants did it take to wrestle Pennington off the field?

Laughing at the idea, he replied, "Not much wrestling, no.

"I wanted to get in there on those 7-on-7 drills as much as I could, but (the coaches are) trying to spare my arm. I appreciate them doing that. That's just the competitor in me. I want to be out there for all the drills."

Every person (and athlete) heals at his own rate. But everyone also agrees that it would be foolish to risk further injury needlessly. Even Spencer.

"I haven't felt any pain at all," he revealed. "I've been icing (my arm and shoulder) every night. I've been working with Rodney Brown (Alabama's head football trainer) and his staff. We do therapy every day.

"The shoulder is getting stronger and feeling better every day."

And for the worrywarts that are scared he's moving too fast?

Pennington throws on the move under the watchful eye of Quarterbacks Coach Dave Rader. The Tide staff is monitoring him closely to make sure he's not trying to do too much too fast.

"Don't worry at all," Pennington replied. "If (the shoulder) starts hurting even a little, I'll cut back. Spring ball is not worth hurting your arm over again with the season coming up in August. I'll definitely sit out if it starts bothering me."

He won't say so publicly, mainly because he doesn't want anyone to get the wrong idea. It really is true that Pennington and Croyle and Guillon and Mike Machen are all friends. It really is possible for athletes to be fierce competitors and respect each other at the same time.

But all that pre-spring talk about how Guillon had a shot at overtaking Croyle and definitely could end up second-string...

Well, let's just say that if Pennington needed any additional motivation, then that idea provided it in spades.

"(The talk) got my competitive juices flowing," Pennington acknowledged. "I'm not going to sit on the sideline at all. I want to be out there in the mix. As long as I'm able, then I'm going to be."

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