Tide Staff Has Initial Look at Newcomers

The Alabama coaching staff got its first official look at 19 of their 20 newcomers during Tuesday's opening fall practice, with Randolph County's Ezekiel Knight expected to report within the next few days. With the squad prohibited from donning pads until Sunday, the skill position-players received most of the attention from onlookers.

Keith Brown, D.J. Hall, Will Oakley and Marcel Stamps lined up at wide receiver, and Knight is also listed as a split end. Brown, who looked like the most polished of the freshmen, said he tried to get ahead at Alabama this summer.

"Normally, I stand around an upperclassman receiver or the quarterbacks and ask questions," Brown said. "They call the plays, and I ask ‘What is that?' or ‘What do I convert to if they get in this defense?' I guess that's what might really separate me. Me wanting to learn as bad as me wanting to play."

Oakley caught a deep ball in team drills, and also stood out in one-on-one drills against the defensive backs. "Brodie threw one up to him today and he went and snatched it," offensive coordinator Dave Rader said. "That was probably the play of the day, and it was good to see." Oakley, who attended a personal training center before coming to Tuscaloosa, reported at 6-1, 193.

"We push each other," Oakley said. "In my opinion, whichever one of us gets called on to play at a certain time is going to be ready for it because of the way we've been working. The opportunity is there for each of us to step up and make an impact when we're called on"

Hall looked sharp as well, and Stamps was athletic but lacking in technique and pass-catching on the first day. There were "too many" dropped balls from all of the young receivers, Mike Shula said.

Marcel Stamps at photo day Monday.

Thomasville's Aaron Johns worked into the mix at halfback, while Nick Walker and Trent Davidson both worked at tight end, as expected. Newcomer offensive linemen Cody Davis (left tackle), B.J. Stabler (right tackle) and Antoine Caldwell (center) will be better evaluated once the pads go on Sunday, but all three were working at their respective positions Tuesday.

Shula mentioned that Simeon Castille and Travis Robinson caught his eye in the defensive backfield, Castille at left cornerback and Robinson at right cornerback. Transfer Jeffrey Dukes worked at strong safety, as did Fort Payne's Marcus Carter. Carter's high school teammate, Aaron McDaniel, worked at free safety.

"The first day practice was pretty easy," Dukes said," but they threw like 20 plays at us in the meetings so it was a lot faster and I had to learn that, too."

Hoover's Curtis Dawson, who reported at 6-1, 276 pounds, worked at the middle linebacker position. Defensive Coordinator Joe Kines said Dawson showed good instincts, and that he isn't worried about Dawson's weight if he can move well with it. Hillcrest product Jake Wingo worked at weak-side linebacker Tuesday.

Curtis Dawson (left) and Justin Britt (right) at photo day on Monday.

Justin Britt, looking lighter than his 285-pound reporting weight, was at right defensive tackle. Northwest Mississippi transfer Chris Turner worked at defensive end, and told reporters he's staying at that position for now.


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