Photo report: Champions had their Night

There was plenty to look at Friday night in Coleman Coliseum, as Coach Ben Pollard and selected Tide players put on an impressive display of athleticism and raw power for the assembled fans.

(Above left) Sophomore linebacker/defensive end Mark Anderson gets under the bar on the hang clean.

Roberto McBride reacts to the weight. Having won the Iron Man Trophy each of the past two years, McBride is one of the strongest athletes, pound-for-pound, on the squad. Friday he squatted 515 pounds, almost three times his body weight. That's senior receiver Lance Taylor (in the baseball cap) exhorting McBride on.

As Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Ben Pollard noted, one of the best things about the exhibition was the number of young players involved. Sophomores Mark Anderson (left) and Freddie Roach (right) both cleaned 355 pounds. Anderson, who played outside linebacker last year, has added both strength and some bulk, and he's expected to get a look at defensive end this spring.

Of Alabama's three returning starters on the offensive line, Evan Mathis probably gets the least recognition among the media. But his teammates appreciate him as one of the strongest and most athletic linemen on the squad. Friday night, Mathis bench pressed an even 500 pounds and later managed 29 reps at 225 pounds each. Remarkably, earlier in the week the 300-pounder achieved 35 inches on the vertical jump.

Offensive Line Coach Bobby Connelly and Mike Price watch the action. For Coach Price and his new staff, Friday was their first chance to watch a Night of Champions, Alabama style. All of them came away very impressed, which Pollard hopes will translate into even more support for the weight program.

It's all about team, and even though individuals lifted Friday night virtually the entire squad was there to cheer their teammates on. Defensive End Antwan Odom managed 405 pounds on the hang clean, just five pounds less than the position record set by Kenny King.

Most of the Tide coaches watched from floor level. But Defensive Coordinator Joe Kines was doing double-duty Friday night, supporting his players at the Night of Champions, while also getting in some quality time with his grandson, Matthew (age 7).

Plenty of athletes demonstrated some amazing skills Friday night, but no one drew more "Ahhhhhs" from the crowd than Brandon Brooks. Leaping 40 inches straight up in the air, the diminutive wideout soared above his taller teammates. Brooks' leap was only 3 1/2 inches less than the program record.

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