Senior Bowl Chief On Tide's Johnson

Nick Saban does not appear to be a man who overlooks anything (failing to wear socks doesn't count; that's probably by design). He gives the impression that he is particularly diligent in those things affecting recruiting. It seems most likely that he is already using information we heard from the top Senior Bowl official when recruiting offensive linemen.

Steve Hale was a very fine football coach, lest he would not have been hired by former Alabama Coach Paul Bryant as an assistant in 1982. Hale stayed at Bama with Ray Perkins through the 1986 season.

But it is not as a football coach Hale has made his name.

Hale is president of the Senior Bowl in Mobile. He brings the same energy and intelligence to that job that he did as a coach. Additionally, he understands football better than the average CEO, which adds to his value in working with the NFL to bring the best possible players to Mobile each winter.

Those who have been fortunate enough to know Hale personally and/or professionally recognize that he is a man of exceptional integrity.

One of the benefits of attending SEC Football Media Days is a chance to catch up with Hale.

He said he had met with Alabama offensive lineman Mike Johnson. Hale goes out of his way to make personal contact with as many upcoming senior "prospects" for the Senior Bowl as possible.

"He's an impressive young man," Hale said of Bama's left guard and pre-season all-star candidate.

Barring the unforeseen, Hale indicated Johnson would be invited to play in the 2010 Senior Bowl and that Johnson has an NFL career ahead of him.

One reason: "Versatility," Hale said. "The fact that he has played more than one position on the offensive line is important to NFL scouts."

Johnson was a starter at right tackle in 2007, moved to left guard last year where he played between All-America players Andre Smith at left tackle and Antoine Caldwell at center, and is a pre-season All-Southeastern Conference projection at left guard going into this season.

Since the arrival of Saban as Alabama's coach in 2007, and with Saban the arrival of NFL veteran coach Joe Pendry as Bama's offensive line coach, there has been much talk among Crimson Tide players of offensive linemen learning to play more than one position.

With that being a part of the Alabama practice regimen and it being important to NFL scouts, it is reasonable to assume that Saban and his staff offer that as another reason for top offensive line prospects to choose Bama.

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