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August 16, 2010

Notebook: Grant, Bowman line up at new positions

TUSCALOOSA _ The University of Alabama had some new faces in new places Monday as the Crimson Tide held its final two-a-day of fall camp.

In addition to juggling the first-two units of the defense during both practices, two players working at new spots were true freshman Corey Grant getting his first looks as a defensive back and sophomore Michael Bowman at tight end.

"Want to," is what senior tight end Preston Dial said he saw from Bowman. "He's accepting it and embracing it. It's obviously different for him, coming in as a split guy and banging around, but he has the frame to do it.

"He has the aggressive mentality to do it."

Although listed as 6-foot-4, 225 pounds, Bowman primarily lined up at wide receiver last season. He played in four games and made a 7-yard catch against North Texas.
Grant, the two-time defending state 100-meter champion in Class 6A and also won the 200 meters as a junior, rushed for 812 yards and 11 touchdowns while splitting time at running back and wide receiver at Opelika High School. He had 16 receptions for 235 yards and two additional touchdowns.

Although Grant has drawn praise from Coach Nick Saban and appears to also be in the mix at kick returner, he's behind numerous established veterans at running back.

Also of note, safety Mark Barron appeared to be working at the star position during the morning practice. Getting some extra work in the dime package at night was true freshman Nick Perry.

More moves

Most notable among the defensive moves was sophomore Kerry Murphy lining up at nose tackle with the first unit during individual drills.

Senior Chavis Williams also appeared to be getting some extra work at strongside linebacker, while Phelon Jones and Will Lowery doing the same at cornerback and safety - although injuries were obviously a factor at those positions.

"It's competitive," sophomore linebacker Dont'a Hightower said. "Coaches are kind of moving guys around to see what's the best combination of guys. We don't have a depth chart right now, so we're looking to see who gives the most effort, who works the hardest, who wants to go out and play hard."

When asked for examples of players who had impressed him with their effort Hightower mentioned Williams and redshirt freshman linebacker Ed Stinson.

There were no changes on the first-unit offensive line during the morning, while the second unit was from left to right: Alfred McCullough, John Michael Boswell, David Ross, Anthony Steen and Arie Kouandijo.

Redshirt freshman D.J Fluker missed the evening session due to being ill. Boswell was at right tackle with Brian Motley taking his place at left guard.

Scrimmage numbers fallout

Players on both sides on the ball said that fans shouldn't read too much into the statistics from Saturday's scrimmage.

"The numbers can be so misleading, and I know we've told you all this a hundred times, but it's situational," quarterback Greg McElroy said. "We had a lot of drills that started in the red area so those count as touchdowns while are obviously a high area of emphasis for us, but it's very skewed. The yardage and the attempts aren't necessarily how things are going to go this season.

"I don't think it was due to the offensive success or defensive failures at all. I think we all have to do a better job on both sides of the ball and we can be a really solid team."

McElroy completed 26 of 33 yards for 360 yards and credited with six touchdowns.

"The defense has a lot of room for improvement, a lot of those numbers came off big plays," Hightower said. "Not really lack of execution. There were still a couple of mental errors, but everyone wasn't going as hard as they could and the heat got to a lot of guys."

Senior tight end Preston Dial gave a simpler explanation.

"We had to replace a lot less people," Dial said about the offense. "It's the first scrimmage of the year."

Injury report

Wearing black and not going through workouts with teammates were true freshmen Blake Sims (sprained foot) and cornerback DeMarcus Milliner (ankle). Outside of the quarterbacks, they're the first players in non-contact jerseys during fall camp. Sims was also sporting a protective boot.

DeQuan Menzie (hamstring) practiced during the morning at cornerback, but joined them on the exercise bikes in the evening. The Tide has been more cautious with him during two-a-days due to his coming off an Achilles injury.

Junior running back Demetrius Goode (hamstring) appeared to be back in the mix of things after being limited last week.

Sophomore safety Robert Lester, who sustained a concussion during the scrimmage practiced, and lined up behind Barron at star in the morning session in full pads, but was back in his regular spot during the evening when the team was in short and helmets. Milliner and Menzie were working at star last week before sustaining injuries.

Junior Mark Ingram, who had the wind knocked out of him Saturday, was back in his usual spot leading the running backs.

Tide-bits

The watch list for the John Mackey Award for the nation's top tight end was released and didn't have any Tide players listed. Making the list from the SEC were Mississippi State's Marcus Green, South Carolina's Weslye Saunders, Tennessee's Luke Stocker, Georgia's Aron White and Arkansas' D.J. Williams. Semifinalists will be announced Nov. 15. It's only the second watch list not to have anyone from Alabama (Ray Guy Award for punters).

McElroy on senior wide receiver Earl Alexander: "He's done a really good job, he understands the offense really well and does a good job getting open. He's a big, physical guy so that helps us out a lot as far as being able to position the football in his body. Earl is just one of those guys who gets it. He really cares about the success of the team and he's a big reason why we were successful last year when he only played sparingly."

Quote of the day from Dial about true freshman tight end Brian Vogler: "He's a lot smarter than me." However Dial's also encouraged by the high number of questions Vogler asks.

Offensive coordinator and former Ole Miss quarterback John Darnell told Tupelo radio show "First Call," hosted and former Mississippi State quarterback Matt Wyatt, that Tide signee Deoin Belue will enroll at Northeast Mississippi Community College this fall.

The Tide will begin to make the transition into its regular routine. Alabama will practice at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, then move to its regular practice time of 3:30 with classes starting Wednesday. All practices and scrimmages are closed to the public.

_ Travis Reier contributed to this report.


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