Saban Addresses Spring Practice Issues

Alabama will begin spring football practice Saturday, March 16, and the Crimson Tide will be without at least a half dozen players who had been expected to return from the 2012 national championship team.

Alabama Coach Nick Saban said that four players recently arrested and charged in connection with assaults and robberies on campus "are no longer associated with the football program." Those four are safety Eddie Williams, linebacker Tyler Hayes, defensive lineman D.J. Pettway, and H-back Brent Calloway.

Saban noted that Tide players over the past five years have generally been "responsible in the community, in the classroom, and on the field," and said The University would continue the programs that emphasize that responsibility. He added that "some people learn by words, some people learn by consequences, and some people just can't learn."

The Tide coach also said that wide receiver Marvin Shinn was not participating in the off-season program and would not participate in spring practice and "is not a part of the team." He said he assumed that Shinn would transfer to another school. Saban also reported that wide receiver Danny Woodson had been suspended from the team.

On the injury front, he said that defensive back Jonathan Fulton, who had turf toe surgery, and wide receiver Kevin Norwood, who has a similar toe injury but who has not had surgery, were not taking part in off-season program workouts and that it is questionable whether either or both will be able to take part in spring practice.

All other players are participating in the off-season program and are expected to go through spring training. That includes two players – linebackers Dillon Lee and Ryan Anderson -- who were sent home from Miami during BCS Bowl preparation because they violated curfew.

Saban said that off-season work "is going well. The players are working hard, they have a good attitude, and they have done a good job."

The Tide will have four practices leading up to spring break, which begins at The University March 22, and the final 11 practices following the break. The A-Day Game will be on Saturday, April 20. Three scrimmage days (including the A-Day Game) are allowed in spring drills. The other scrimmages, neither open to the public, will be April 6 and April 13.

In addition to the players going through off-season program, the staff is preparing for drills by "doing quality control" to determine what areas were most productive last year and how that information can be used in preparing for next season to make the team more productive.

He said coaches would also make professional visits to look at other programs.

Saban added that Alabama would be playing "a lot of new opponents next year, so we need to address that." He pointed out that a "new opponent" could be a team that Alabama did not play last year, or it could be a team that Alabama played but which this year has a new coaching staff, which makes for the equivalent of a "new opponent."

New opponents include Virginia Tech (Bama's opening opponent on Aug. 31 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta), Colorado State, Georgia State, Kentucky, and Chattanooga. Additionally, in addition to Kentucky, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Auburn have new coaching staffs for 2013.

Saban said that bowl practice was an opportunity for young players to make progress and he thought that had been the case. He added that spring practice would be "really important" for the younger players.

"Players make the most improvement between their freshmen and sophomore seasons, and a lot of that is in the spring," he said.

He said that young players who had made significant improvement include safety Landon Collins, cornerback Geno Smith, offensive linemen Brandon Greene and Alphonse Taylor, linebackers Lee and Anderson, wide receiver Chris Black, and defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson.

He said that Black "was on the firing line" and would have played if Alabama had lost one wide receiver to injury in the Southeastern Conference Championship Game win over Georgia or the BCS National Championship Game victory over Notre Dame.

Saban said he was pleased to have been able to add Greg Brown from Colorado State to replace Jeremy Pruitt (who went to Florida State) as secondary coach and to hire Mario Cristobal from Miami to replace Jeff Stoutland (who left for the Philadelphia Eagles) as offensive line coach. Although there have been several reports of the addition of the addition of Billy Napier as new wide receivers coach (replacing Mike Groh, who went to the Chicago Bears), that hiring has not been officially announced.

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