An Excellent Return

It didn't take Charlie Peprah long to reacquaint himself with his teammates after returning to the practice field Monday night. He made a particularly lasting impression on tailback Josh Smith early in Tuesday's scrimmage, a big hit on a short pass. It was part of an overall excellent return for Bama's junior strong safety.

One of the most disturbing injuries of the fall campaign was the pulled hamstring muscle suffered by Charlie Peprah in the early days of work. Alabama Head Coach Mike Shula said that he was anxious for Peprah to get back to practice since Peprah was learning a new position.

Peprah, the Crimson Tide's starting left cornerback the past two seasons, was shifted to strong safety midway through spring practice.

But while Peprah missed much of the early practice time, he didn't fall too far behind because he kept up mentally.

In a short scrimmage (60 plays), Peprah had some memorable ones Tuesday. In addition to two tackles, he broke up a pass and recovered a fumble after a center-quarterback exchange problem.

"He looked good," said Alabama Secondary Coach Chris Ball. "He was fresh-legged. But the key thing is that he was on top of the checks and the coverage calls. He was in the right place at the right time. He has been studying and paying attention in meetings and doing all he could to keep up. He was getting people in the right places. He looked like a safety."

Ball added, "And he made some hits. He did very well. And he's my second biggest man next to (sophomore transfer) Jeffrey Dukes." Peprah is 5-11, 192.

Peprah was obviously pleased with his performance in his first scrimmage work of the fall. "I got hurt when we were still in shorts, so it was the first time since last spring I had been able to tackle someone," he said.

Peprah said it was frustrating being on the sidelines. "I have felt good for several days, but they want to be sure," he said. "The doctors wouldn't release me to play until they were positive."

Shula said, "He looked better than I thought he'd look physically. He moved around a lot better than I thought he would this early. He's still got a ways to go, and we don't want him trying to do too much too quickly. We need him making plays."

"I didn't feel it at all," Peprah said of the hamstring. "It felt good."

But, Peprah said, "Physically, it will take a few days to get back. I'm still being careful, but I didn't feel anything. I think I'm 100 per cent, but the doctors want me to take extra precautions–making sure I get warmed up good, things like that."

He said, "I didn't have any busts. I felt a step slow, but that will come back."

Peprah said while he was injured, "I kept up with it–mental reps. As they were putting new things in–new checks and things–I stayed up with it. So when I got back on the field, I knew what I was doing. I say I did everything right, but I guess I'd better wait until we look at the film."

Peprah is happy to be back at practice a week and a half before Alabama opens the season hosting Utah State.

"It's all about installation," Peprah said. "If we don't put it in right, it's not going to look good. If we don't have enough time to perfect and polish, then it's going to look like it did last year. But the extra time we've had, I think everyone feels better about where we are."


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