Jimmy Johns Won't Be Moved

The time is not right. If it was 15 years ago, or maybe seven or eight months ago, Alabama junior running back Jimmy Johns might be in a position to get more playing time. But for now he's relegated almost exclusively to play on Crimson Tide special teams.



Following practice Wednesday, Alabama Coach Nick Saban was asked about the future of Johns, who had been Bama's back-up tailback in both 2005 and 2006.

"Jimmy Johns has done well for us on special teams," Saban said.

But the coach said, "It's not the right time to move someone to defense" who has not previously played on defense. "It's hard enough to teach (defensive) players we have from week-to-week, different offenses that we see, different adjustments that we have to make.

"If it was 15 years ago when everyone had two backs in the backfield it would be a little different."

Johns is an outstanding athlete. As a high school senior in Brookhaven, Miss., he was Mr. Football as a quarterback who led his team to the state championship. The 6-2, 233-pound junior moved to tailback as a freshman in 2005.

It was also as a freshman that Johns became a force on special teams, remembered particularly for causing a fumble on the second half kickoff against Mississippi State, a fumble that resulted in an Alabama touchdown.

Johns' athleticism has long led to speculation about the possibility of moving him to linebacker. Following his freshman season, Johns said, "I volunteered for special teams because I wanted to get on the field and that seemed the fastest way. But," he added, "if you ever see me on defense, you'll know that I didn't volunteer for that."

In fall camp there were reports that Johns had been moved to fullback, but that seemed to be a short-lived experiment. But on Wednesday Saban indicated Johns is more in the picture at fullback than at tailback. And that doesn't seem to be much of an option, either, according to Saban.

The coach said, "We do have a role for him, but because we don't play regular people very much (regular meaning quarterback, tailback, fullback, two wide receivers and one tight end) and use two tight ends a lot in the game, the fullback doesn't have a significant role in our offense right now."

This year Johns has 13 carries for 35 yards and one touchdown and three pass receptions for 41 yards. He has not had a carry in the past two games.

Saban said, "The fact that we have three guys who have done a good job when they got their opportunities at tailback (Terry Grant, Glen Coffee and Roy Upchurch) has limited Jimmy's playing time.

"He's a good pass-blocker and he's done a good job when he's played.

"Jimmy works hard. He's got a good attitude about it."

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