August 8, 2006

Practice Report: Hot start for Tide

The Crimson Tide were greeted with a scorching 110 degree day on the first practice of fall camp. The heat never let up as the Tide sweated through its first two-and-a-half hour practice session and looks to become a regular part of fall camp with temperatures hitting triple digits regularly in Tuscaloosa.

"It was hot but it's hot everywhere," said sophomore quarterback John Parker Wilson. "We're trying not to think about it too much. We've been working out in the heat all summer and we know it's a factor but we're just trying to work through it."

"We make sure right from the get-go that they're going to stay hydrated as much as they can," said head coach Mike Shula. "We do extra stretching after practice, we weigh them in before and after practice and see how much weight they lost and we make sure they get the right supplements."

The heat appeared to hit the wide receiver corps particularly hard with DJ Hall, Keith Brown and Nikita Stover all looking winded just an hour into practice. Shula said the heat wasn't the only factor involved.

"Nikita has asthma and that affected him early in practice. Keith wasn't that bad he just probably got more reps than anyone else in the first group."

Freshman left tackle Andre Smith took a spiritual perspective on dealing with the heat.

"It's hot, extremely hot. But God won't put more on me than I can handle so I'm going to keep pushing myself."

Practice Takes
Arenas shines:Freshman defensive back Javier Arenas was a standout from day one grabbing two interceptions and hauling a few punts in a short drill at the end of practice.
Alexander the Potentially Great: Quarterback turned wide out Earl Alexander appeared to take to his new position better than expected impressing Shula with how easily some of the more advanced techniques are coming to him. "He ran routes well, has good body control, good hands," Shula said. "He gets his head around quickly for the ball. Those are things that kind of surprise you for a guy in his first day playing a new position."
DE Zeke Knight: Shula on defensive end Ezekial Knight: "I think he got better in spring practice each and every day and I thought he looked good today. His big thing will be once the pads go on. He'll have a little bit of a speed advantage now but we'll find out how much improvement he's made once we put the pads on."
Coach Prothro: Injured Tyrone Prothro tossed some passes in drills during practice and was often advising the younger wide receivers. "It's one of the reasons we had him here," Shula said. "It gives us the opportunity to get him out here as quickly as possible. We like having him out here because he has that personality and he's looked up to by a lot of people on the team."

Hall struggles on first day back

Missing summer workouts has left Hall a bit behind the pack when it comes to conditioning. Hall was clearly struggling with the heat even more than his fellow winded receivers.

"DJ came in and did some conditioning this morning so overall he's not as bad as we thought," Shula said. "He's further behind but I think he'll get himself back in shape."

Wilson was also optimistic his top receiver would return to form by the end of camp.

"DJ works hard and does what he has to do and he'll be where he needs to be. We've got a lot of time before the first game so he'll get there."

"I'll be in a whole lot better condition than I was in today," Hall said. "It motivates me to work hard because I see how hard everyone else is working."
Smith knows his place

Veteran lineman hoping to demoralize a cocky and headstrong Andre Smith on his first day of practice were sorely disappointed. Smith is surprisingly humble for a such a highly touted prospect and his willingness to learn impressed his coaches and teammates on the first day.

"It was exciting to go against the older guys. I have a lot more to learn as far as different stepping techniques and things like that. Humility is power so I pretty much keep myself humble. I don't boast about myself. My momma always said pride comes before destruction so I use that as my philosophy."

While Shula wasn't ready to name him starter on day one, Shula was impressed by the potential he saw in the young tackle.

"He shows good athleticism, he's such a big body out there but he's just a little too slow with his reactions but for his first day it wasn't bad."

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