Photo report: Time to step up

Whether they're returning starters or raw freshmen, spring practice represents a chance to start over. Starting jobs obviously won't be earned until next fall, but now is the time to position yourself in the eyes of the coaches.

(Above left) Senior cornerback David Scott (#23) defends versus junior receiver Tarry Givens (#85). "It doesn't matter what happened with the previous staff," Givens remarked to recently. "All that matters with the new coaches is what you do now. This is my year to step up."

Quarterback Brandon Avalos checks the defense at the line of scrimmage. Avalos and Spencer Pennington are doing double-duty this spring, competing in baseball while also battling for the back-up spot at quarterback.

With Coach Buddy Wyatt looking on in the background, Tide defenders work on tackling technique. Bama fans have wondered about the new Tide defensive staff, but so far Coordinator Joe Kines and his staff have worked their charges daily on the basic fundamentals of football.

With cornerback Ramzee Robinson (#17) coming up to defend, receiver Marcus McKnight (#82) runs his route. If Alabama hopes to repeat its success from last season, redshirt freshmen like these two must contribute.

Coach Paul Randolph directs a tackling drill. Practice observers have been impressed with the energy and enthusiasm demonstrated by the new assistant coaches.

Senior tight end Donald Clarke makes it look easy during warm-ups. With all the talk about one-back schemes and "passing to set up the run," many fans (including some media members) have wrongly assumed a diminished role for the tight ends. Actually, the opposite is true. Removing a blocking fullback from the equation makes a dual threat athlete like Clarke even more valuable to an offense.

In addition to his work as head coach, Mike Price gets in plenty of time every practice working with the Tide quarterbacks. Here he directs a footwork drill with Brodie Croyle (right) spotlighted. That's freshman walk-on Teo Clark (#8) looking on to the left.

It's not just youngsters that are determined to step up next season. Seniors Atlas Herrion (#75) and Derrick Pope (#6) are also set on increasing their role on next year's squad. Herrion is battling for a starting position on the offensive line, while Pope will again be a key member of the playing rotation at linebacker. Pope can play either inside or out, and there has also been some talk of playing him at strong safety in certain situations.

Assuming everyone stays healthy, few fans are worried about the offensive line. Right to Left: returning starters Justin Smiley, Will Hardy, and Wesley Britt take a break after practice. That's reserve guard Mark Sanders (#63), who also hopes to play a role next season, to Britt's right.

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