Wide Receiver Has New Attitude

There are various ways to determine how a football player is doing. If he is the starter, then he's doing better than anyone else on the team at that position. That doesn't necessarily mean he's doing well, though. You can ask the player. Most will say something along the lines of "I'm doing good, but I know I can get better." You can ask a coach who will almost always say something positive.

In the case of a wide receiver, there are certain teammates who can offer informed opinions. Alabama senior wide receiver Nikita Stover is getting high marks from some of those teammates in a position to know.

Stover, 6-0, 203, was expected to be good. It is almost forgotten that he was considered the state's top prospect when he was a senior at Hartselle High in 2003. Stover went to Itawamba Junior College in Mississippi for a couple of years, then transferred to Bama in 2006. Because he played only one year of junior college football, he had three years of eligibility with the Crimson Tide.

He has been a backup the past two years, although he started three games late last season. He has 22 catches for 323 yards and four touchdowns – perhaps the most memorable the 31-yard catch-and-run and somersault-into-the-end zone against Colorado in the Independence Bowl at the end of last season. (That showboat stunt inexplicably didn't draw a penalty, but Stover is not likely to forget Coach Nick Saban's discussion with Stover.)

Senior quarterback John Parker Wilson tossed that touchdown pass to Stover and almost every other pass that has been thrown to Stover in his Alabama career. This summer Wilson thinks he saw a new Stover.

Wilson had an interesting response to what seemed like a softball question following Alabama's Friday afternoon practice to begin fall camp. Would he miss those three seniors from last year, D.J. Hall, Keith Brown and Matt Caddell?

Wilson hesitated, then said, "Yeah, but I'm more excited about the guys we have. This is a great group of guys. They ask questions, they want to learn, they want to do things right. It's a lot different. It's nice."

Wilson said that summer workouts on days the skill position players and linebackers were working seven-on-seven drills were usually an hour in strength in conditioning, followed by "two or three hours" on the field on in the film room. He said that sometimes the guys wanted to keep going, and so they did.

Wilson got a few questions about ballyhooed newcomer wide receivers Julio Jones and Burton Scott, and was complimentary of them. Then came a question about Nikita Stover.

"He has a new attitude," Wilson said. "He wants to play and catch. He turned heads all summer. All summer he made spectacular catches."

Javier Arenas, the upcoming junior kick return artist, earned a number one job at cornerback in the spring. He has been working against Bama's wide receiver corps. Asked about Stover, Arenas said, "He looks like himself. You guys have seen him and know what he can do, and that's pretty good. He hasn't looked hurt and he has confidence."

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