Nick Saban Isn't Poor-Mouthing

A new year begins Thursday. Not a calendar year, but a football year. Although the Crimson Tide has been trying to put 2009 behind for months, it is now time for Alabama football to get serious about preparation for 2010.

Alabama Coach Nick Saban could be excused for speaking poor mouth as his Crimson Tide opens Fall camp Thursday. The Crimson Tide won the 2009 national championship witha 14-0 record and the 2008 team went 12-0 in regular season play. But many of the stars from those teams are gone, quite a few of them to the National Football League.

It reasonably could be considered a rebuilding year for Bama.

Instead, though, Alabama Coach Nick Saban was talking about the positives.

"The players have worked hard in the offseason and we've had a good summer overall," Saban said. "We feel like we're pretty healthy going into camp so we're really excited about what this team might be able to accomplish."

The Crimson Tide coach did qualify the excitement, though.

"I think accomplishment is all about action," he said. "I think what our action is will be everything about what this team is able to achieve. Every guy on the team has to make a decision of what he's willing to do to make this team all it can be. There are obviously some expectations and I think the players need to embrace the challenges but also be able to stay focused on the things they need to do to play winning football at their position. Not really focus on the competition of other players on our team, but actually what they have to do to be the best player they can be and compete against themselves so we can have individuals help individuals get better so we can be the best team possible."

Saban said an important aspect of Fall camp and for the 2010 season "is the maturity and selflessness of our team relative to what they can accomplish. When I say maturity, I'm talking about young players. If you're old enough, you're good enough if you're mature enough. That's the key issue. We have some good, talented players that do not have the knowledge and experience that some of our players had a year ago.  This is an opportunity for them, especially this camp, to continue to develop the foundation of knowledge and experience that they need to be able to play winning football. There's also a confidence that goes with that.

"It's all about your actions. Not just what you do on the football field, it's how you prepare, how you practice, how you give yourself the opportunity to recover, rest and take care of yourself so that you're out there every time that's possible for you to have a chance to get better and improve as a football player. It's how you manage injuries, it's how you manage difficulty, heat, all these things.

"Is it an opportunity or is it an obstacle? Is it a stepping stone or is it a stumbling block? All those things to me are how you think. How you think determines what your actions are going to be. This team this year has to prove they're going to think right, make the right kind of commitments to do the right kind of things all the time so that they have a chance to be successful. What I say to the players all the time is ‘What you do speaks so loudly, I can't hear what you say.' The actions of this team are going to be critical in terms of developing an identity for this team and what they do in fall camp."  

Saban will begin his fourth season as head coach of the Crimson Tide. It was pointed out that all but a small handful of players on the 2010 Bama team were recruited by Saban and his staff. Does that give this team a ‘Saban personality?'  

"I think the personality of our team has basically come from players buying in, regardless of who brought them in," Saban said. "That has never been an issue.  We had a lot of good players last year that we recruited and we brought here, and we had a lot of good players last year that were here when we came here who bought in to the principals and values of the organization and they were more successful because of it.  I think who brought them in is insignificant.  I think it's what their commitment is and how they buy into the organization, together as a group and individually, that makes the group what it is and what's going to determine the personality of the team and the identity of the team."  

Although 105 are allowed to report for Fall camp (the roster can be expanded when classes begin at the University August 18), it is possible Bama will open practice with only 104. "We still have some eligibility issues," Saban said.

Saban didn't reveal the plan for filling out the roster, but he indicated that if wide receiver-defensive back Blake Sims is academically eligible that Sims will be 105. If not, and if he's eligible, defensive back Deion Belue will get the final spot. Neither of the freshmen signees has made it over the NCAA academic hurdle. And Saban said he wouldn't wait long before adding another player.

Two other signees won't be part of the 105, or part of the expanded roster. Wide receiver Ronnie Carswell and tight end Wilson Love (who is recovering from an injury) will delay entrance into The University as full-time students until January, so-called grayshirts.

Saban also announced that safety Rod Woodson would be transferring, by mutual agreement.

Saban said that no players will miss practice because of injury, including junior college transfer defensive back DeQuan Menzie (recovering from a ruptured Achilles tendon) or sophomore cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (recovering from off-season shoulder surgery).

In Spring practice, Alabama worked two wide receivers at safety. Brandon Gibson will start fall drills as a wide receiver. Kendall Kelly will begin Fall camp as a safety.

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