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July 19, 2012Lacy on mend
University of Alabama running back Eddie Lacy has recovered well over the summer from the turf toe surgery that kept him out of spring practice, UA coach Nick Saban said Thursday.
Lacy, named a Doak Walker Award candidate Thursday, was limited last season with the injury but finished the season and had surgery in January.
"Eddie Lacy has done extremely well over the summer. ... I do think that we have a couple running backs that will probably create some competition," Saban said. "But we've always played more than one running back."
Jalston Fowler, Dee Hart and incoming freshman T.J. Yeldon handled the bulk of the rushing load for Alabama in the spring in Lacy's absence, with Yeldon earning A-Day MVP honors with more than 180 total yards.
Saban indicated UA's other injured players were doing well also. Running back Blake Sims and offensive lineman Arie Kouandjio also missed spring drills.
"I think all of our injured players are doing well and would be cleared for practice if we started practice today," he said. "We continue to work hard to try to get the conditioning level of these players back to where, you know, they'll be able to be prepared to have a full role on our team."
Three is a charm
Offensive lineman Barrett Jones' move to center for the 2012 season will mark his third starting position on the offensive line in the last three years, showing uncommon versatility.
"Probably the only offensive lineman that I've ever been associated with (showing such versatility) was Bruce Matthews at the Houston Oilers," Saban said. "He could play center, he could play guard, he could play tackle, he was a long snapper. He's the only guy that I ever remember. That's pretty high class there to be compared to someone like him."
Jones won the Outland Trophy as the nation's top lineman last year and is a candidate for the Outland and Rimington (top center) awards in 2012. Asked if his teammates up for the Outland (Jesse Williams, Chance Warmack, D.J. Fluker) could hurt his chances of repeating by splitting votes cast for Alabama, Jones said he would give up his own votes if it meant a teammate could succeed him for the trophy.
"I'll fold my (candidacy) right now for one of those guys to win it," he said.
Williams wants more
Former Pickens County High School star and senior Alabama tight end Michael Williams said Thursday that he's looking to change people's perception of him this season.
"I'm looking forward to being more of a leader, to start off with," Williams said. "Also, being more of a red-zone threat, and just being an all-around tight end. Ever since I was a freshman, people say I've been on the field because I can block. You can say there's a little chip on my shoulder."
The departure of Brad Smelley, who played a hybrid version of tight end at H-back, leaves Williams as the most experienced tight end on the team. Smelley was second on the team in receptions with 34 for 356 yards. Williams caught 16 passes for 191 yards.
"I want to be on the field on third down," Williams said. "I don't want to be the guy who has to come out for a third receiver or another tight end."
Saban said he was happy for college football fans that the new playoff system, to be implemented in 2014, will allow for the best four teams to be selected rather than selecting four conference champions, a sentiment once suggested by representatives of the Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences. NCAA basketball teams, Saban noted, don't have to win a conference title to be in that sport's final four.
"I think, to be quite honest with you, whoever's making the statements about conference champions is really making a statement against the SEC and against any league who has more than one good team who would qualify, trying to enhance the opportunity for somebody from their league to get in," Saban said.
"I was going to consider wearing a visor on the sidelines this year. I was afraid I would throw it." - Saban joking about emulating South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier.
Saban said he was in favor of new rules changes for safety reasons which will change the spots of kickoffs and touchbacks, as well as a new rule requiring players to exit the game if their helmet comes off accidentally. "I don't care if it's stylish or whatever it is, the players need to wear their helmet properly, it needs to fit properly, and it's never good when it comes off," Saban said. ... UA wide receivers Duron Carter, Michael Bowman and Ronald Carswell are no longer on the team roster. Each was suspended for the entirety of spring practice. According to the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, Carter is considering a transfer to Florida Atlantic. Possible destinations for Bowman and Carswell remain unclear.