Photo report: pleasant surprises of spring

Obviously numerous players--especially several returning starters and some redshirt freshmen--are having excellent springs. But in this photo report, <i></i> highlights several players that are proving to be pleasant surprises so far, exceeding expectations.

Charlie Peprah (left) has had a good spring so far, running second string at cornerback. But Anthony Madison (right) is the surprise, starting out first-string in Hirchel Bolden's absence and continuing to hold onto that spot through the break.

A walk-on player hoping to somehow earn a scholarship, reserve fullback Nick Signaigo has turned in a very good spring. Starter Donnie Lowe has missed a lot of work with a concussion, and in his absence Signaigo has shown solid blocking skills and a hard-nosed running style. Signaigo was credited with one carry for six yards in the only scrimmage so far, but they don't keep stats for much of his work as a blocking fullback.

After working hard in the off-season weight-training program, junior receiver Dre Fulgham transferred his effots seamlessly to the playing field. Gifted with one of the best vertical leaps on the squad, Fulgham is putting his physical talents to good use, making even difficult catches look routine.

Shown talking to Carl Torbush during warmups for the first scrimmage, everyone knew Marvin Brown (#6) was an excellent athlete. But few predicted how well he would take to the physical position of middle linebacker. Should he remain eligible, Brown promises to be in the playing rotation at 'Mike' linebacker.

Justin Smiley's very good production at guard for the Tide has certainly not been a surprise, as "Big Smiles" continues to build on a freshman all-america season. But after undergoing arthroscopic surgery just prior to spring drills, frankly he was expected to sit out most of the work. But Smiley insisted on playing through the pain, prompting Coach Franchione to comment that he "exemplified the difference between being injured and being in pain."
Tough man.

Sporting one of the most impressive physiques on the squad, everyone knew Clint Johnston was a strong athlete. But the redshirt freshman has been a pleasant surprise catching the football, displaying good hands and some nifty footwork.

With the departure of four-year starter Terry Jones Jr. to the NFL, most fans were frankly worried about tight end. But so far previous perennial backup Theo Sanders has performed like he was born to play the 'W' tight end position. In the scrimmage, working at both tight end and fullback, Sanders had one reception for 10 yards and carried the football two times for 18 yards and a touchdown.

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