Observations Sunday At Bryant-Denny

First, let me say that it's hard to put in words just how hot it was on the field at Bryant-Denny Palace, err, Stadium. The new end zone looks, well,, palatial. But man, it was hot out there today. I can never remember being so glad to be told the media viewing period was over, and moving up to the air-conditioned press box was a treat. So were the sandwiches from Full Moon BBQ, but I digress.

Having played, as hard it is to believe, receiver and defensive back in high school, I chose to focus on those two groups as I watched the fourth practice of Alabama Fall camp. Here are a few observations:

There is no doubting who the first three wide receivers are. The guys on one of the media guide covers, Julio Jones, Darius Hanks and Marquis Maze, get ALL the reps with the first unit. The second group was manned by three of these four at various times: Earl Alexander, Kenny Bell, Kevin Norwood, and A-Day hero Brandon Gibson. Group three, for the record, included walk-on sophomore Hardie Buck along with true freshmen DeAndrew White and Keiwone Malone.

I've said all along White would be the first newcomer to crack the rotation. Here's what Preston Dial said: "I gave DeAndrew a ride home from practice the other day, and he was asking me stuff like, ‘Hey man, what do I have to do to play THIS YEAR?' He really wants it." Just thought I'd share that.

In the secondary, Nick Saban and Jeremy Pruitt were giving LOTS of one-on-one instruction. The first four remain B.J. Scott and Dre Kirkpatrick (who appears to be fine, health-wise) at corner, with Mark Barron and Robert Lester at safety. The competition is fierce for the nickel and dime spots. Phelon Jones, DeQuan Menzie, DeMarcus Milliner, John Fulton, and true freshmen Nick Perry and Jarrick Williams all got looks. It's impossible to name two clear-cut leaders, but my guess is Menzie and Milliner will play early and often. If/when Perry and Williams learn the play book, they will see time, too. When counting special teams, I don't think any of the above will redshirt. I reserve the right to be wrong, as always.

A quick glimpse at the linebackers told me that Petey Smith and Jalston Fowler are both going to factor in early on special teams and sooner than later on defense. Suffice it to say this is a BIG camp for redshirt frosh Tana Patrick.

Before you ask, yes, Blake Sims did take snaps at quarterback again, but he wore a white contact jersey. All other QBs wore black. At some point, Blake will likley go back to safety, but he could very well be part of some wildcat packages this fall. Don't' rule that out.

Running back Corey Grant could fit in on returns, but the Opelika speedster saw himself take a few snaps with the twos today in the absence of Mark Ingram. As an aside, the battle to replace Roy Upchurch on passing downs is shaping up to be a barn-burner between Demetrius Goode and Eddie Lacy. When the pads go on, the one who shows the most consistency in blocking will likely get the nod. It's not all catching passes, folks. As could be expected, Richardson got most of the snaps with the ones.

Here's what we saw in kickoff work: Returners included Richardson, Scott, Jones, and Maze. Those are your top four on kick-offs. The tandems rotate. A third group of Hanks and DeMarcus Milliner was spotted, as were Lacy and DeAndrew White. Just remember those first four, for now. Blake Sims was back on a few kicks, too.

As could be expected, the crowd roared its approval when freshman Cade Foster boomed a kick five yards deep into the end zone...and then repeated that feat. The fact that Foster played linebacker in high school should not be lost on Tide fans. UA now has eleven, and not ten tacklers on that unit.

At 4:30, the always entertaining "Running of the Bulls," er, fans, commenced. Estimates said 5,000 fans braved the heat for the practice INSIDE the stadium, while another 2,000 chose to stay outside and stand in line the whole time, some since Saturday evening, to get a choice place in the autograph line. This even without the presence of the reigning Heisman winner.

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