By Chase Goodbread
TUSCALOOSA | With three University of Alabama safeties withheld from contact this spring, Robert Lester couldn't be faulted for wondering if a little bad luck was involved.
Lester and Will Lowery are the most game-experienced safeties UA has at full speed for the moment, but coach Nick Saban indicated the safeties who have been limited this spring - Mark Barron, Jarrick Williams and Nick Perry - will still have a role Saturday when the Crimson Tide holds its first scrimmage of spring.
"They do everything but thud them when they get to them. Anything but that. We'll scrimmage those guys, too. Kareem Jackson went through a whole spring around here with a black shirt on, with a broken wrist or whatever he had, he took every rep, every play, and scrimmaged every time," Saban said. "They just won't tackle the guy if the guy gets to them."
Barron continues recovery from surgery to repair a torn pectoral muscle, while Williams and Perry are practicing while healing ailing shoulders.
Lester, a returning starter who led the Southeastern Conference in interceptions last season with eight, said his fellow safeties are plenty active despite not engaging in full contact.
"They're doing what they've got to do. They're still out there. They haven't gotten injured to the point where they couldn't go out and practice," Lester said. "They're still out there making calls, getting in position."
Added Saban: "They're all safeties, so hopefully if we're playing decent defense they shouldn't have to make all that many tackles."
Two other players who aren't part of the UA secondary have also been withheld from contact since the beginning of spring drills, tight end Brad Smelley and linebacker Jonathan Atchison.
Assistants' pay on agenda
The Compensation Committee of the UA Board of Trustees will meet today to consider approval of 10 contracts, including eight assistant football coaches, a football staff member and UA's head volleyball coach. New assistants Chris Rumph, Jeff Stoutland and Mike Groh, all hired by Saban in the last three months, are expected to have their initial contract agreements approved.
All other assistant coaches, except defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, will also have new contract adjustments considered. Those assistants include Burton Burns, Bobby Williams, Jim McElwain, Jeremy Pruitt and Sal Sunseri. Smart's pay was raised from $750,000 annually to $850,000 in January.
Another new member of the football support staff, director of operations Joe Pannunzio, as well as UA volleyball coach Ed Allen, will also have contracts considered.
"I can promise you this, that we've never, ever given a player anything. I never, ever have known about giving a player anything. I don't know much about what those guys are saying. … I would really question whether anybody's ever received anything from any of our coaches or any people that are involved with our program. That would be a real surprise to me."
- Saban, on the transcripts of an HBO Sports report on former Auburn lineman Stanley McClover, which indicate extra benefits received from several schools, including Auburn and LSU, at a time when Saban was LSU's head coach.
"I would say Darrington Sentimore. Watching film, I've seen him getting off the ball pretty fast and doing what he's got to do to get on the field."
- Lester, on which UA defenders have stood out to him this spring.
Offensive lineman Tyler Love (possible concussion) missed his third consecutive practice Wednesday. There is no indication of when Love might return.
Nose guard Jesse Williams was limited in practice Wednesday due to knee soreness, but Saban said he expects the junior college transfer to be ready for practice Friday.
The suspensions of defensive back Robby Green and defensive lineman Brandon Moore presumably continue, as neither was in attendance at practice. Green has missed the entirety of spring drills so far, while Moore has missed all but the first two practices. … Friday, the Crimson Tide's seventh practice, final preparations will be made for the first scrimmage of the spring, to be held Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium (closed to the public). Saban has said he hopes to complete the installation phase of spring practice by Friday.
Reach Chase Goodbread at email@example.com or at 205-722-0196.