Hard Work Leads To Reamer Success

No one could suggest that Cory Reamer was a sleeper. After all, he had been the most valuable player in the Alabama 6A championship game as he helped his Hoover team to the state title. But there had to be some waking up for him to be where he is now—the starting strongside linebacker on the nation's number one college football team.

Cory Reamer came to Alabama in 2005 as a highly-regarded defensive back. He was redshirted his first season, then spent a couple of years getting playing time on special teams. He moved to weakside linebacker last spring. Alabama had vacancies to fill at three of the four linebacker spots, all but the middle linebacker position manned by Rolando McClain.

In Alabama's system, weakside linebacker is an inside spot. There was a suspicion that Reamer might be better at strongside linebacker, which is an outside spot, but that experiment couldn't take hold until freshman Don'ta Hightower showed he could handle weakside.

Alabama Coach Nick Saban pointed out that when Hightower took over the weakside position, it made Bama stronger in two positions with Reamer moving to strongside.

Reamer, a 6-4, 218-pound junior, is in the right place. But that's not all there is to it. He has also been a hard worker, and recognizes that everyone on the field works hard. "The guys come out and work hard and the coaches work hard," he said.

"Coach Saban's system works."

It didn't come easy for Reamer. "It takes time," he said of changing positions. "You work a guy at one place and then you look at him at another place and find out what's best. Now you have the best players on the field."

From time-to-time Reamer finds himself on the sidelines. The Saban system includes a number of players rotating in or out based on the situation. Reamer notes the performance of true freshman Marcel Dareus (6-3, 280), who worked at both defensive end spots before becoming a passing down nose tackle who can rush the passer. Eryk Anders was seeing almost no playing time, but now the 6-2, 227-pound linebacker has become an outside speed rusher.

"It's great to see Eryk making plays," Reamer said. "Marcel has done a great job. It took him a little while to catch on, but he has come on as a force. He causes havoc in the middle."

Reamer said there has been no let-up in Alabama practices even though the Tide is 10-0. "We're still going at it," he said. "Monday and Thursday are lighter days, but Tuesday and Wednesday we're still going strong, including first against first. It's only two days a week that we're really hitting, but you have to do that. If you don't work on it during the week, you'll miss tackles on Saturday. We get after it and when we make mistakes we correct them."

Reamer doesn't think there have been any bad practice weeks. "We've practiced well and played pretty well," he said. "Last week we had some mistakes. It can be a lot of things. I was out of position once and they made a run.

"It helps a team to face adversity. You have to overcome it, and we did; we came out all right. I think that goes back to our preparation going back to the off-season. We were ready. There was no panic when we got behind or when we went to overtime. We were ready because we had gone over everything."

Reamer was asked whom on Alabama's offense he watches in practice. He didn't hesitate. "Julio," he said, referring to freshman wide receiver Julio Jones. "He's fun to watch because he works so hard to be good on every play. And our offensive line. They can wipe out the whole side of a defensive line. They put guys on their backs."

Reamer said the season "has been rewarding for me. I have to keep working, though, or they'll find someone to replace me that quick," he said with a finger snap.

This week Reamer and his teammates are preparing to play Mississippi State, a team that has beaten Bama the past two years.

"You have to expect that from every team you play against, you are going to get their best," Reamer said. "They've made a run the last couple of years and they have come out and beaten us and played physical, and we have to be ready for that again because they are going to play their best football."

The Bulldogs are led by junior running back Anthony Dixon, who ranks fifth in the SEC with 71.89 rushing yards per game this season.

"We've faced him for two years," Reamer said. "He is a big guy. He can get down hill and run the ball hard. We need to fit our gaps or he can break it loose. It's going to take more than one guy to tackle him. It's going to take a swarming defense, like we've played all year, to get him down. He is a big guy, about 245 pounds, but he has speed too. He's got a fullback-style body, but he can move like a running back."

Reamer is also impressed with quarterback Tyson Lee, a junior college transfer. "He's a good passer and he can make plays with his feet, too," Reamer said.

Saturday's game in Bryant-Denny Stadium kicks off at 6:45 p.m. CST with national television coverage by ESPN.

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