Reamer Takes Care Of Linebacker Work

For the second consecutive year, Cory Reamer recorded two tackles in Alabama's season-opening game. In 2007, that feat received almost no notice. It came on special teams coverage in a 52-6 rout of Western Carolina. The Crimson Tide had a one-sided win over Clemson to start this season, and Reamer's presence was far greater.

Cory Reamer came to Alabama with excellent credentials, but they were credentials as a safety, not a linebacker. In 2007, most of his playing time for the Crimson Tide came on special teams.

In the spring, Alabama Coach Nick Saban decided to look at Reamer as a weakside linebacker, one of the two inside linebacker positions in Bama's 3-4 defense. Darren Mustin had graduated and Reamer gave it a shot for a couple of weeks.

Meanwhile, there was no good news on the Ezekial Knight front. Knight had done very well in his first season at strongside linebacker, one of the outside spots. Knight had one more year of eligibility, but he wasn't to get it.

Illness sidelined Knight, who earned his degree in August, but had to give up football. Late in spring practice Reamer moved into Knight's spot at strongside linebacker, and when Alabama opened the 2008 season at the GeorgiaDome in Atlanta Saturday night, Reamer was the starting strongside linebacker.

Reamer had one of the game's big plays in the 34-10 win over Clemson. Clemson Coach Tommy Bowden had promised hot-shot running back prospect Jamie Harper that he would get the first rush of the game for the Tigers. It's a recruiting ploy that Bowden has used in the past, including with the likes of current Clemson stars James Davis and C.J. Spiller.

With Davis and Spiller on the bench, Harper got the handoff on Clemson's second play of the game. Reamer was in the backfield and got his hand on the ball, stripping it away. The fumble was recovered by Alabama freshman linebacker Dont'a Hightower and led to a Leigh Tiffin field goal and a 6-0 first quarter lead for the Tide.

Reamer, a 6-4 junior, has built his weight up to over 220, still a lightweight by current linebacker standards. He was injured both in 2005 and 2006 (and redshirted in '06). Last year his play was limited to special teams, so that even though he has 20 games of experience, almost no one considered him experienced going into this season.

It's not unreasonable to suggest that up until kickoff last Saturday night, it would not have been a surprise if Reamer had not been first team. Star Tide middle linebacker Rolando McClain wasn't surprised. "Reamer is a great athlete," McClain said. "He could play about any position on the field."

Against the Tigers, Reamer seemed to have a very good game. Even when he didn't make the tackle, he appeared to be in position to force the issue.

"For the most part, it went pretty well," Reamer said.

He said, "We wanted to show them what we were about. From the first play, we had guys getting in their backfield, doing what they are supposed to do. And that really helps the linebackers and defensive backs when you get that from four guys.

"We still had some mistakes and we have to make corrections. There are a lot of little things that we can do better and get a little more comfortable."

Reamer said the Tide was well prepared for Clemson. "The coaches did a great job," he said. "We knew what they were going to do."

Reamer was happy he was part of one of two turnovers for the Bama defense. "Anytime you can get the ball for the offense, that's good," he said. "It felt good to start the game that way.

"And then our offense kept their offense off the field."

Alabama ran 80 plays to 48 for Clemson. The Tide had the football for 41:13 to the Tigers' 18:47.

Like all Alabama players, Reamer is looking ahead to Tulane, not back at Clemson. "We had a good game against a good team, but we have to move past that," he said. "That was just the first week. We've got a long way to go. We have to keep preparing."

Alabama will have its home-opener in Bryant-Denny Stadium against the Green Wave at 6 p.m. CDT Saturday. The game is sold out and available on a Pay-Per-View basis.

"They've had an extra week to prepare for us," Reamer pointed out. This will be the first game of the year for Tulane, which is practicing in Birmingham. The Green Wave had to leave New Orleans to avoid Hurricane Gustav.

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