After some intitial walk-through teaching sessions, practice begins with a team stretch period. Of course the major difference between now and last fall is that new Strength Coach Kent Johnston now conducts this part of practice.
Seniors David Cavan (#87) and Ray Hudson (#27) wait their turn during special teams work. Cavan is still recovering from off-season knee surgery and is only participating in light drills and teaching sessions. At this point both Cavan and Hudson project as starters headed into next fall.
It's not absolutely certain whether he'll play strong safety or free next season, but Roman Harper is definitely listed in the starting unit for Bama's secondary. In his first year as a starter, Harper turned in 111 tackles last season, second-best on the team.
Relatively speaking there hasn't been that much media attention focused on Le'Ron McClain (#33) so far, but his development at fullback could be one of the crucial factors this spring. If McClain is ready to shoulder the load of starting, then that would free up Tim Castille for extra work at halfback. If not, the Tide coaches might have no other choice than to keep Castille at fullback.
Veteran placekickers Mike McLaughlin (#46) and Brian Bostick (#22) jog to a different session at practice. Bostick was Bama's starting kicker last season, handling all field-goal and extra-point duties. But McLaughlin and several other placekickers hope to wrestle the job away from him.
Again, there hasn't been a lot of media attention focused on it, but the move of Evan Mathis (#51) from right tackle to left guard could prove key to Bama's success on the O-Line in 2004. Shown here blocking against Anthony Bryant (#97), Mathis is a powerful athlete who looks forward to trading finesse for brute force next season. (That's J.B. Closner to the left looking on.)
Spring practice will always be the best time for less-publicized athletes to impress otherwise overworked coaches, and several walk-ons hope to do just that this year. Here middle linebacker Matt Collins (#93) looks on from the sideline.