Arenas Has Ability To Do Many Things

The question to Alabama Coach Nick Saban was a natural. Javier Arenas had just made a nice catch in practice. Is there any chance that he might be able to show his stuff on offense? Saban said it had been talked about, but that with his defensive and special teams assignments, "he has a lot on his plate. I doubt it."

Three years ago, people were wondering why then-Alabama Coach Mike Shula staff signed that short cornerback/kick returner from Tampa when his best offer at the time was South Florida. Now, Javier Arenas is an All-SEC player and Playboy All-America. And he knows talent when he sees it.

Which begs the question: which new players are standing out thus far to Arenas?

"A lot of them," he said, matter-of-factly. "They're the number one (recruiting) class in the country, you know? Dre Kirkpatrick at corner. A couple of receivers, like Michael Bowman, on the offensive side of the ball, just to name a few. They're great players, and they're great guys. They're real physical. Coach (Nick Saban) brought the right group of guys in, as far as character and football players. That's what's making them stand out a lot."

One factor in how much Arenas stands out is defensive coordinator/secondary coach Kirby Smart. Arenas loves to be asked about the former Georgia star defensive back.

"A friend, that's all he is. A friend," Arenas smiled. "A friend that knows the score real well, and how to coach. How do I say it? He makes you feel like it's not a job. Being in camp when I was with coach (Mike) Shula, not to knock any of those guys, but I felt like it was a job. Now, we can clown around a little bit, but we're getting a lot done. It's a relaxed atmosphere."

Asked about any individual goals he may have for his senior season, Arenas gave a somewhat surprising answer: none.

"My assignment is to cover these (receivers) each game, and to try to make great plays on punt returns each game," he said. "I don't have any set goals, other than my goal is to be the best player I can be. If being the best player I can be means just a couple of tackles and maybe one pick, making no (touchdown) returns, then that's what it is. I'm just working on being the best football player I can be to help my team out."

Entering the 2009 season, the 5-9, 198-pounder is Alabama's career leader in punt return yards in a game, season and career as well as touchdowns. He's also the active NCAA leader in career punt returns, punt return yards and punt return touchdowns . That said, records aren't a big deal to him.

"I'm living in the moment," Arenas said. "After I graduate and look back, that's when I'll think about records."

Arenas' 13.54 yard average per punt return also ranks first on the Alabama career chart, just ahead of the legendary Harry Gilmer. He was a second-team All-SEC performer in 2008 as both a cornerback and return specialist, and reeled in second-team All-America honors as a punt returner by Phil Steele.

On defense he had 58 tackles, fifth on the team and second among defensive backs only to All-America safety Rashad Johnson. He had three tackles behind the line of scrimmage and two sacks, had four quarterback hurries, broke up seven passes and had one interception. That one interception he returned 63 yards for a touchdown against Arkansas.

Although he is listed as a cornerback, Arenas also moves to the "money" position when Alabama is in a defensive alignment with extra secondary players.

Arenas  earned the 2009 Sylvester Croom Commitment to Excellence Award following spring practice. Not one to rest on his Laurels, Arenas made 12 tackles in three spring scrimmages in 2009. A year before, he won the 2008 post-spring  Jerry Duncan "I Like to Practice" Award."

A 2006 graduate of Tampa's Robinson High School, Arenas was a first-team All-Suncoast player . He was named U.S. Navy Player of the Week and Bright House Player of the Week in 2005. And, not surprisingly to those who have tried to chase him down on punt and kick returns, Arenas was also a track star in the 200 and 400-meter events.

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