McClain Defensive Scrimmage Leader

Rolando McClain has been among Alabama's top defenders the past two years, a Freshman All-America in 2007 and a Butkus Award finalist as a sophomore last season. He wasn't resting on his laurels when Bama went to Bryant-Denny Stadium for a scrimmage Wednesday.

"I thought some players did extremely well," Alabama Coach Nick Saban said following the work, Alabama's seventh of 15 spring practice dates. "Ro was really good."

"Ro" is Rolando McClain, Bama's 6-4, 250-pound middle linebacker.

McClain was the leader of the defense in Wednesday's scrimmage. He had 10 tackles, made two interceptions, and had two sacks. Last year he was Alabama's lead in total tackles with 95 (48 primary, 47 assist).

Last year Dont'a Hightower was McClain's running mate, playing weakside linebacker, the other inside linebacker spot. "He and Ro are pretty good inside 'backers," Saban said. One of the experiments of this spring has been giving Hightower work at one of the outside linebacker positions, Jack.

Saban said the team "needs more depth" at inside linebacker. Cory Reamer, who started every game at strongside linebacker (the other outside linebacker position), has been working at Will alongside McClain this spring.

Saban noted that Hightower "played well all last year and has had a good spring." Hightower, 6-4, 250, started 12 games as a freshman last year and had 64 tackles (26 primary) and earned Freshman All-America.

"We're giving him more multiples," Saban said of Hightower's spring. The coach said that Hightower can be a good pass rusher.

One of the statistical surprises was safety Tyrone King having seven tackles and making two interceptions. King, a 5-11, 198-pound senior, is one of the candidates for the safety position vacated by the graduation of All-America Rashad Johnson.

Saban explained that Alabama does not have a strongside safety and a free safety. Instead, the Tide is using a left safety and a right safety. That means the offensive set determines which safety will be a so-called strong safety and which will be a weak, or free, safety on each play.

Robby Green, a former cornerback, is also working in the safety rotation. The 6-0, 180-pound soph was credited with six tackles and an interception Wednesday.

Justin Woodall, a returning starter at safety, had three tackles, a pass interception, and broke up a pass.

Saban mentioned Woodall as "doing a nice job," soph Mark Barron and senior Ali Sharrief as "making progress," and Green "making nice progress" in the safety competition.

Other defensive leaders in Wednesday's scrimmage were cornerback Javier Arenas, who was in on four tackles; defensive end Lorenzo Washington, credited with five tackles and 2.5 sacks; and nose tackle Terrence Cody, three tackles and 1.5 sacks.

BamaMag Top Stories