Alabama notes: Saban excited but cautious on young players

Anniston StarAugust 8, 2013 

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- A day after junior Jeoffrey Pagan called Alabama's freshmen defensive linemen the "smartest group" he's seen, coach Nick Saban praised some of the efforts of the highly touted new guys.

Saban noted that Dee Liner, A'Shawn Robinson and Jonathan Allen have a possibility of contributing in some role in their first year with the Crimson Tide.

"We're going to continue to work with those guys and it all depends on how they develop," Saban said. "They've shown that they have the potential to be players that might be able to contribute but are they going to be able to develop and improve?"

Saban is no stranger to having freshmen play significant roles as the season progress. But he kept everything in perspective, as the players have a ways to go.

"Are they going to sort of flat-line on us and just sort of level off and not continue to make progress?" he said. "Are they going to have the maturity to be able to take the field? There's so many questions that you just have to get answered when it comes to young players. We like them and we're excited about having the opportunity to work with them."

Players needing a day off

Consistently practicing in 90-plus degree weather will take its toll on anyone eventually and Alabama's players are no different.

"This is really the dog days of camp for every player," Saban said. "Two-a-day yesterday, one-a-day today, two-a-day tomorrow, scrimmage on Saturday. It takes a lot of sort of mental discipline, self-discipline, to be able to stay focused in the conditions."

The players are seven days into preseason practice and have yet to have an off day.

"It's a grind like always, but we're just trying to keep everyone level headed and come out after practice and go watch the film and correct it," linebacker Trey DePriest said.

But is the team ready for Sunday, it's first day with no practice.

"No and yes," safety Vinnie Sunseri said, smiling. "No, so Coach Saban hears that, but yes, so we get a little time to recoup."

Saban on players signing autographs

With news breaking of Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel allegedly receiving payment for signing autographs, every team seems to be scrambling to protect its players.

Saban noted that Alabama's compliance department does a great job teaching players the rules, but said "somebody, sometime, is probably going to do something stupid."

Saban mentioned that the Tide has a plan in place to monitor and protect players. Potential con artists don't just show up when Alabama is away from Tuscaloosa.

"We have to watch everywhere," he said. "We have to watch here in town. We have some people in town who want to get stuff signed so they can sell them in their stores or whatever. Players have to be aware of who those people are."

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