SEC Media Days: Alabama recap
Barrett Jones is no stranger to media attention. The fifth-year senior has been around the Crimson Tide program long enough to know the type of hype SEC Media Days provides for Alabama. On Thursday, Jones traveled with head coach Nick Saban, tight end Michael Williams and defensive lineman Damion Square to Hoover to take part in the festivities.
Much of the talk around spring practice centered around whether or not Jones would be able to adjust to playing center. The talented offensive lineman was moved to the middle of the line to replace former center William Vlachos. Jones had a very productive spring, and gained the trust of the rest of the team.
However, at SEC Media Days, the primary topic of the day for the Alabama contingent was not about Jones’ switch to center. Instead, the focus was on the Tide’s defense of its national championship. Jones, Williams and Square were all on the 2010 team and know what the failure felt like.
“This year, it’s started with the older guys talking to the younger guys. It’s not going to sneak up on us this year,” Jones said on Thursday. “We know that we have to,if anything, work harder this year than last year. We have a lot of guys from that 2010 season and we all had a bad feeling from that season. We don’t want to feel that way again.”
Williams ready to become a target
Senior tight end Michael Williams has experienced a variety of ups and downs over the course of his college career.
The 6-foot-6, 269-pound tight end has won two national championships. Now, entering his final season at The Capstone, Williams is preparing to take a heightened role within the Alabama offense.
“I’m ready for the challenge. I’m ready to be an every down tight end for our team,” Williams said. “It requires something I’ve never done, and I’m just ready for the season to start to show what I’ve been working on.”
Jones, Williams pleased with leadership of quarterback McCarron
Tight end Michael Williams and Barrett Jones both echoed the sentiments of many other Tide players on Thursday when talking about the maturation of quarterback A.J. McCarron. The junior quarterback led the Tide to a national championship in 2011, but with a new offensive coordinator and an offense that is replacing key targets, it will be vital to Alabama’s success for McCarron to grow and step up in all areas of his game.
“A.J. was a plugin to the offense last year because he was a new quarterback,” Williams said. “Now, he’s in a leadership role and getting the right plays called for the right situations. I’m looking forward to him having a great season.”
“A.J.’s starting to become a vocal leader on the team. Last year, it was harder for him to be a leader because there was a question of who was going to be the quarterback,” Jones said. “We threw more responsibility on him as the year went on, culminating in the national championship. He’s working hard this summer and setting the example for the younger guys on how to work, what to do.”
Square confident in Tide’s defense, ready for 2012
Defensive lineman Damion Square enters the 2012 season as one of the Tide’s top returning defensive lineman. In fact, Square was recently named to the media’s preseason All-SEC second-team list. The 6-foot-3, 286-pound senior will anchor a Tide defensive line that has generated a reputation for being one of the toughest run defenses in the nation.
On Thursday, Square displayed overwhelming support for the Alabama defense that he has been a part of for so many years.
“It’s a system. We have great guys that play in the system, but that doesn’t take away from the system,” Square said. “We have a great defensive coach in Nick Saban and a great defensive coordinator in Kirby Smart who study film and develop us. The system is the system. It’s pretty dynamic though, and new the new guys that come in, if those guys learn and master their roles within the system, it’ll make us that much stronger.”
With SEC Media Days complete, the Tide will now shift its focus to ending offseason workouts and gathering for fall camp during the first few weeks of August. The preparations will then begin for the season opener against Michigan. The trip to Dallas will be special for a number of reasons for the Tide, but for Square, it’s a chance to travel to his home state and display the product of his hard work.
“I’m born and raised in Texas so this is a great way to start my senior year, ” Square stated. “To go play in Jerry’s House and play a great team like Michigan — there’s no better way to start season. I’m looking forward to it.”
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