ALSO: Team morale may be improving
Julio Jones and his cohorts who comprised the No. 1 recruiting class took to the practice field today. Practice has started. It is that time of year when the fire of summer melts away the dross, and the refiner reshapes the raw metal.
Gone were the accolades. Things are different.
The freshmen are no longer just the No. 1 recruiting class of 2008. They are now part of the Crimson Tide. â€œWe all are one,â€ said Alabamaâ€™s Javier Arenas.
While they are all one, the freshmen are individually catching the eyes of the upper classmen. One player anxious to see how Julio Jones pans out is senior quarterback John Parker Wilson.
â€œJulio is a good player; he is a special athlete,â€ Wilson said. â€œI think he has a good drive about him that can make this whole team better. I am looking forward to throwing with him against the first team D, everybody going full speed.â€
(For photographs of Jones on the practice field visit the Rap Sheet.)
Of course, other freshmen are also getting attention.
â€œ(Julio) and Burton Scott, both came up this summer and I think showed the whole team some things they can do,â€ Wilson said. Iâ€™m anxious to get them out there one-on-one in pass drills and see what they can do. I think they are both going to be productive guys and help out the team a lot.â€
Overall, Wilson expects the receiving corps to be one of the strongest elements of the 2008 Crimson Tide.
One thing fans should enjoy hearing, the freshmen have a strong work ethic.
â€œI was really impressed by the freshmen who came in this summer,â€ said Alabamaâ€™s left tackle Andre Smith. â€œThey worked extremely hard.â€
The freshmen have much to learn, and the more experienced players are ready to teach the new guys.
â€œI think it will make him (Julio Jones) better as well because I am physical and those guys out there in the SEC are pretty physical,â€ Arenas said.
No â€˜Iâ€™ in team
Signs are there that the entire team has improved in one significant area. The team part.
â€œThe team was a lot closer than we were last year,â€ Smith said. â€œWe talked more; we communicate better on the field. We just play a lot better together.â€
Granted it is only the first day, but getting players on the same page is a major step forward for this Alabama squad. Dissension must be a thing of the past if the Tide wants to compete against the top teams on the 2008 schedule.
And have the players gotten on the same page as Nick Saban?
â€œEverybody understands why we should listen to Coach Saban,â€ Smith said. â€œHe is a great coach. He has proven he is a winner…We might as well buy into it because if you donâ€™t, heâ€™ll just replace you.â€
Does this herald a better season in 2008?
It canâ€™t hurt.