Tide Football Players Flip for Pass Skel

If Mike Shula had been in his office and swiveled around in his chair Tuesday, he might have thought he was late for one of his own football practices.

But even with the coaching staff on vacation and nowhere around the athletic complex, about 60 Alabama 2004 squad members were outside at Thomas-Drew field taking part in voluntary, player led seven-on-seven ‘pass skel' drills.

Pass skel is basically a passing game with no linemen and no rushing allowed. Players organized two separate games of seven-on-seven, each starting near midfield and running towards opposite end zones. Along with Brodie Croyle, Spencer Pennington and Marc Guillon, walk-ons A.J. Milwee and Adam Thrash worked at quarterback between the two groups. Nearly all of the Tide's skill-position players for the coming season worked in and out of the rotation.

Tuesday marked the first day of classes for The University of Alabama's Summer II session of classes, and the arrival of many incoming freshmen who weren't previously on campus. Keith Brown, Will Oakley, Simeon Castille, Travis Robinson, Trent Davidson, B.J. Stabler, Curtis Dawson, Nick Walker, D.J. Hall and Aaron Johns were all seen at Tuesday's workouts, and others are in Tuscaloosa and participating regularly in team workouts.

Pass skel workouts have left several Crimson Tide newcomers turning flips, literally. Travis Robinson, Simeon Castille and Aaron Johns showed a different type of athleticism, matching one another with standing front flips and back flips on the field at the conclusion of the workout. Presumably, they won't be doing that during games this season.

A Rookie Mistake?

Robinson, a Hillcrest (Tuscaloosa) High School product, within earshot of a fellow teammate, said he perfected his tumbling as a cheerleader in high school.

"Actually, the cheerleading sponsor saw me flipping before and she told me I should try out," Robinson said. "I tried out and I made the team. It was fun.

"Girls. That's the best thing about. Basically, lifting up those girls, I figured ‘this ain't as bad as I thought it was.' I see why other guys join cheerleading squads."

Travis said he wore "regular shorts" during his time on the cheerleading squad.

Robinson is hoping his athleticism translates on to the field sooner rather than later. Like most incoming freshman, Robinson has ambitious goals of early contributions on the field.

"It's been fun," he said. "I'm learning a lot. Me and Simeon (Castille) are basically doing a lot of stuff together, working out and drills and stuff. I think the opportunity's there for me to play this year. Hopefully, if I keep working hard a get a little bigger I'll be on the field September 4th."

Although three inches shorter than Castille, Robinson's ability to change direction quickly and to break on a pass, combined with the Tide's needs in the defensive backfield make Robinson a candidate to take off the redshirt in 2004, even if not for the season opener.

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