Saban Sees Good Leadership On Team

Part of the maturation process of a football program is having leadership from within the team. Coaches often cite "senior leadership," but sometimes the leadership comes from younger players. There aren't many seniors on this squad, but Crimson Tide players have said they feel there is more leadership this year than in 2007.



Alabama Coach Nick Saban is a proponent of the theory that leadership from players is important. He said following the Crimson Tide's Tuesday practice that he is seeing leadership from a number of upperclassmen.

He was asked how players provide leadership.

"It's the example they set by the way they go about what they do, by the calls they make," Saban said. He said a player can lead by helping younger players, pointing out things. He said that safety Rashad Johnson calls every play "even when he's not on the field. He's almost like a coach."

Sometimes in practice, he said, a leader will point something out to a player who is on the sidelines.

It was no surprise that Saban singled out Rashad Johnson, a captain of last year's team as a junior.

It's almost part of the job requirement that a quarterback—and particularly a senior quarterback—be a leader. Saban said that Bama's senior quarterback, John Parker Wilson, is filling that role.

Leadership, Saban said, "is John Parker telling people what to do. He's been very helpful to the young receivers, getting everyone on the same page and affecting the passing game."

Want a leader by example? Saban cited tight end Travis McCall. "He never says a word, but he brings his lunch pail and goes to work every day," the coach said. "He works hard and sets a good example."

Saban said player leadership had helped the team develop. He said there are very few in the program who haven't bought into the process in part because of their teammates.

Saban understands the difficulty some players have in becoming more vocal leaders. He was asked about Kareem Jackson, the sophomore cornerback who has told reporters that he is trying to be more vocal because Saban has urged him

Saban said he thinks that a lot of freshmen (including some on this year's team) are frustrated. They have been in leadership roles in the past, but now "they don't toally understand what is going on – what to do, how to do it, why it's important to do it that way.

"I see a guy in that developmental stage. I see a guy like (junior wide receiver) Mike McCoy as a leader because he's more confident. He's not just worried just about what he does, but how his example affects others on the team." He said McCoy had "emerged as the leader of the young wide receiver corps."

As for Jackson, Saban indicated wanting the soph cornerback to be more vocal was about more than just leadership and chatter. The coach pointed out that communication is important in the secondary, which makes it important for Jackson to be more vocal.

Saban named a long list of upperclassmen who are doing a good job on the leadership front. In addition to Rashad Johnson, John Parker Wilson, Travis McCall and Mike McCoy, Saban said "the offensive line, the first group (Andre Smith, Mike Johnson, Antoine Caldwell, Marlon Davis, Drew Davis) has done an excellent job."

He said, "(Junior tailback) Glen Coffee has been one of our best leaders. And so has (soph) Terry Grant."

On defense, Saban said "(Sophomore) Rolando McClain has had a really good camp and his leadership has been beneficial to the linebackers. (Defensive end) Brandon Deaderick has played really well. In the secondary, Javier (Arenas), Kareem (Jackson) and Rashad (Johnson) have all done well."

These upperclassmen, Saban said, "have done a phenomenal job in providing leadership, setting a good example and being consistent in their work ethic, and doing their jobs at a high level. We have been really pleased."

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