Photo report: Athletes strive for personal bests

The squad will continue lifting over the next two months during spring practice, but Monday through Wednesday of this week were prime opportunities for the individual athletes to put up personal bests. <br><br>Tide Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Ben Pollard was ready with his clipboard, as each player took his turn at the bar.

Starting quick tackle Wesley Britt puts up his clean. At 6-8, 312 pounds, Britt is one of the biggest players on the squad--and taller athletes can sometimes have trouble in the weight room. But the big sophomore is an exception to that rule.

We noted earlier that Theo Sanders was one of the top lifters among "stand-up athletes" (tight ends, linebackers and running backs). But fellow senior Ahmaad Galloway works every bit as hard. With several teammates watching, Galloway easily gets underneath his lift. (L to R watching) Leslie Williams, a walk-on linebacker, Boone Stutz, Von Ewing and Alonzo Ephraim.

Another newcomer in the secondary described by Franchione as "on a mission" to play next season, cornerback/nickel back Anthony Madison looks on during lifting. He stands only 5-9, but clearly the Thomasville native has plenty of power to compete with taller athletes. That's junior Charles Jones over Madison's right shoulder.

Still recovering from a broken leg, which he played with all last season, Tuesday was the first time in weeks that Evan Mathis worked on the hang clean. In high school Mathis was known more as a state champion wrestler than as a hot-shot football recruit, but since arriving at Alabama he has built himself into one of the better offensive linemen on the squad. That's Von Ewing and AC Carter looking on from the side.

Believed by most to be the heir apparent to Alonzo Ephraim at center, redshirt freshman J.B. Closner hopes to solidify his position on the O-Line depth chart this spring. With Dante Ellington, Ray Hudson and Stutz looking on, Closner proves that perfect technique is not everything, as the Texas native powers up his hang-clean effort.

Junior tailback Santonio Beard takes a break between lifts. At his press conference earlier in the week, Coach Franchione said Beard had already proven himself as a "breakaway threat" in the SEC. Key goals for Beard and the Bama coaches this spring are to improve Beard's blocking and receiving skills.

Tuesday was a day for personal bests, and in Theo Sanders' case that also equated to a position record in the hang clean. Here he hoists 385 pounds, five pounds better than Terry Jones Jr's record from last year. "You can put my name up on the wall anytime you want," Sanders jokingly commented to Coach Pollard.
By the way, Sanders wasn't satisfied with 385, but a later effort at an even 400-pounds went awry when the leather strap on his left wrist snapped in two under the strain. Sanders will try again later, but as of now all he has is a frayed leather strap and a sore wrist to show for his effort--that, and the new record, of course.

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