Drew Davis Now A Veteran Leader

Two or three days each week a handful of Alabama football players meet with reporters following practice. Television cameras are often present, and just in case players are wearing inappropriate shirts, media relations personnel have a handful of officially licensed crimson Alabama shirts for them to slip into.

Alabama offensive tackle Drew Davis was among the players available for interviews following Monday's workout. He showed up wearing a gray pullover with "Alabama" across the front. One of the media relations officials approved. "You can wear the gray shirt," he said.

So was Davis a grayshirt? Again?

Davis is a true success story, a grayshirt in 2004 out of Sparta Academy in Evergreen. He entered Bama full time in 2005 and was redshirted. He played in one game in 2006 and one game in 2007. Last year, the 6-7, 306-pounder earned the starting job at right tackle. He earned coaching staff player of the game honors in wins over LSU and Mississippi State.

Davis and his teammates put on full pads for the first time during fall training camp Monday. Almost everyone was talking about the heat. Temperatures were in the low 90s with a heat index over 100.

"It was hot, but we try not to focus on that," Davis said. "We don't worry about outside influences. It was hot, but I like to think that we were able to push through it."

"Practice is going really well," Davis said. "We have been working really hard to get better. We are focused on doing whatever it takes to get better each practice and build the kind of chemistry along the offensive line that it takes to win football games. We are really meshing well as a group. We just have to put in the work it takes to get the plays right, get the technique right and get the communication right."

He said the addition of full gear was not a big change. "I'd like to say it was more like football, but we've been hitting hard since we put shoulder pads on (on Saturday)," he said.

A feature of Alabama offensive line practice since Head Coach Nick Saban came to Alabama and brought Joe Pendry as offensive line coach is that the men up front learn to play more than one position. Although Davis is the right tackle, he has also played left tackle and has practiced at guard. "I like to move around," Davis said. "We've been doing it since Coach Saban got here. I think it helps us. I think it makes me think more about the offense."

He said that after three years under Pendry, "Mentally it has gotten easier. Physically, there is no change. He's always going to push us."

Davis said he feels a responsibility to help newcomers with technique. "The freshmen have to learn technique," he said. "The coach can't coach every player on every play, so it's up to us to help the young ones."

He said he and the other senior lineman, left guard Mike Johnson, have a leadership responsibility. "Antoine (Caldwell) and Marlon (Davis) were the seniors on the offensive line last year and did a good job with that. I guess it's been passed to us. I think Mike is doing a good job. We both probably tend to lead by example, but I know we need to be more vocal, too."

Davis mentioned some of his teammates, both offensive and defensive. He said heralded freshman D.J. Fluker, who has been working next to him at right guard, is typical of freshmen in needing work on technique. Also working at right guard is Alfred McCullough, the former defensive lineman. He said McCullough "is really doing good. He moved over from the defense and has worked hard on learning the playbook."

A defensive player who has Davis's attention is sophomore linebacker Dont'a Hightower, who is now working at jack linebacker. "He's a great athlete," Davis said. "He makes a tackle work hard. If you don't, he'll embarrass you."

A defensive freshman who has caught Davis's eye is defensive lineman Darrington Sentimore. "You don't seen many freshmen work that hard," Davis said. "He goes hard every play."

Alabama will hold its first two-a-day practice on Tuesday with a 9:30 a.m. practice in full pads and a 7:30 p.m. workout in shells.

The Crimson Tide is working towards a season-opening game against Virginia Tech on Sept. 5 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

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