Move Of Fowler Is Intriguing

As if we were not already intrigued with Jalston Fowler, now we'll spend the spring wondering about the experiment of moving him to defense. Who saw this coming?

Following the first day of Alabama football spring practice last Friday, before the Crimson Tide took this week off for The University's spring break, Bama Coach Nick Saban reported on some experiments that involve players working at new positions, at least temporarily.

Saban admonishes reporters (and therefore everyone else) not to put too much into these experiments. These are not permanent moves yet, and many are quickly abandoned.

Jalston Fowler is one of 11 newcomers who are new to the program this semester. They include seven true freshmen, three grayshirts (men who were re-signed this year after having signed out of high school in 2009), and one junior college transfer.

Fowler is different than others in that he did not play football in 2009. By a few days, he was too old to participate in Alabama High School Athletic Association football. So he spent the year as a member of the scout team for Vigor High School in Prichard while he completed his requirements for graduation in order to enter Bama.

Fowler is a big running back. Real big. Or at least he was until Saban announced that Fowler is working with the linebackers. When he was signed, he was listed as 6-1, 240. His prep coach, Kerry Stevenson, said he was 6-0, 252. Players said that in winter workouts he was a fat-free 260 pounds.

Before signing day, Fowler told recruiting expert Andrew Bone, "Coach Saban wants me to play running back. He thinks I am an all-around back. I can run with power, and I can catch the ball out of the backfield. He also said they would put me in the slot and throw me the ball."

Vigor Coach Stevenson said, "You think of Jerome Bettis with speed...He looks like a big muscle with speed.

"I don't see why Alabama wouldn't put him on offense. He ran a 4.68 in the 40 at the Scout combine a year ago. He is definitely an offensive-minded person."

But Stevenson added, "He is going to excel on either side of the ball, but he is an offensive-minded person."

Saban, of course, is a defensive-minded person, and there are a lot more opportunities at linebacker than at running back, where Fowler would start off behind Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram and Freshman All-Southeastern Conference performer Trent Richardson.

In 2008, his last year to play at Vigor, Fowler had 139 carries for 1,085 yards (7.8 yards per carry) and 15 touchdowns and caught 27 passes for 391 yards and one touchdown. In the state championship victory, he rushed for 169 yards and scored three touchdowns.

Fowler was a four-star prospect.

Fowler isn't the only experiment announced. And it's possible there will be others. Saban said that redshirt freshman Kendall Kelly, who came to Bama as a wide receiver, is working at defensive back; junior Brandon Gibson, another wide receiver, will work both in the secondary and continue working at wide receiver; and sophomore Undra Billingsley, who started at Bama as a defensive lineman, then moved to tight end last year, is back on the defensive line.

Alabama returns to the practice field Monday. Bama concludes spring training with the A-Day Game at 2 p.m. CDT Saturday, April 17, in Bryant-Denny Stadium. There is no admission charge. ESPN will televise the event nationally.

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