Reamer Hopes To Be Back At Weakside

When Alabama ended last football season, the belief was that the Crimson Tide would have its linebacker corps back intact in 2009. Brandon Fanney's suspension in the spring, then permanent dismissal from the team prior to the start of fall camp, meant a change in the linebacker group.

Alabama Coach Nick Saban has said there will be much experimentation with the linebackers in fall camp, working men at both the two inside spots (middle linebacker and weakside linebacker) and the two outside spots (strongside linebacker and jack linebacker).

Fanney was the jack linebacker last year. Rolando McClain is an All-America candidate at middle linebacker. Last year's strongside linebacker was Cory Reamer and the weakside linebacker was Dont'a Hightower.

The gut feeling is that McClain and Reamer will stay where they were. Hightower seems a natural for the jack position. It's a hybrid outside linebacker-defensive end position, and Hightower looked good there in spring practice experimentation. Alabama wants to improve its pass rushing, which was middle of the pack in the Southeastern Conference last year. The 6-4, 260-pound Hightower has a reputation of someone who can rush the passer.

If there was a depth chart (there isn't; that comes the week of the first game, which is Sept. 5 against Virginia Tech in Atlanta), whispers indicate it might be Jarrell Harris. Harris, a sophomore, had limited playing time as a true freshman. Reportedly, he has taken very well to getting snaps alongside McClain on the inside.

Reamer, the former Hoover High star safety who spent most of his early Bama years on the injury list, became a linebacker last year and had an outstanding season. He started every game in which Alabama started a strongside linebacker (three times Bama did not have Reamer in the starting lineup, opting for an extra defensive back).

Last year Reamer had 35 tackles, six tackles for loss, one sack, and one forced fumble. The forced fumble was memorable, coming in the opening game against Clemson and leading to the Bama touchdown in the eventual 34-10 Crimson Tide victory.

Reamer is somewhat bigger this season. Although he may have been a bit over the 218 pounds he was listed last year, he has gained weight on his 6-4 frame. He credits hard work in the weight room and good eating habits for being in the 236-pound range as Bama prepares for the 2009 season.

Reamer's first linebacker work was at weakside linebacker. He moved to strongside when Hightower showed early last fall that he could do the job inside. If Reamer has to move back to weakside, he said, "It won't be like I'm not used to moving. I've had three years of it.

"When I see Coach Saban coming to talk to me, I think he's going to be about me changing positions."

Reamer believes that Hightower will be moving to jack. "Dont'a's a great pass rusher, and that's an area where we've got to improve," Reamer said. "If he's Jack, then I could be Will (weakside), but that's probably going to change 10 times. We don't have to know today, so we'll look at a lot of combinations. Coach Saban knows what he's doing, and we'll do it right."

Reamer confesses he'd like to stay outside. "I like it better because I played it a year," he said. "But if I have to go back inside, that should be find. It shouldn't take me too much adjustment since I've been there before."

Reamer said the change of linebacker coaches has meant changes for the players. "They have new personalities, we use a different meeting room, even different warm-up routines."

Reamer said he has watched some Virginia Tech tapes. "They have a talented quarterback who can run. They are physical and fast."

The Alabama football team held its first two-a-day practice of the 2009 fall camp Tuesday, working in full pads for two hours at the Thomas-Drew Practice Facility. The second practice was held at night in shells. The Tuesday morning practice, the sixth of fall camp, followed five days of acclimation, although Monday's work had been in full gear.

Alabama held its sixth practice Tuesday morning after a five-day acclimation period..

"Today was the first day that we are allowed to have a two-a-day," Saban said following the morning session. "We did have some very good acclimation practices, which I think is a good thing for the players. We had a couple days in shorts, a couple days in shells, and a day in pads, and pads this morning.

"We kind of go back to the beginning a little bit, starting all over. We had five days of heavy installation, which really taxes the young players in terms of their learning curve. We go back and try to get more fundamentals, more understanding and start all over with the new installation, but very little new stuff so the guys have a chance to learn it again. We had heavy fundamentals out there today. We usually don't practice in pads two practices in a row, so we will be in shells tonight and it will be a little different type of practice."

The Crimson Tide began practice on Thursday, Aug. 6, and will have only three days of two-a-day practice sessions during its fall camp. Alabama will practice twice on Thursday and Monday, Aug. 17. The fall semester begins at Alabama on Wednesday, Aug. 19.

The Crimson Tide will return to practice on Wednesday for a 2:30 p.m. workout at the Thomas Drew Practice Facility.

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