We know this much about Alabama’s quarterback race after one day of spring practice — Blake Barnett has a new number.
And no, No. 8 like does not reflect his place on the depth chart.
Alabama’s spring practice got underway Friday with a helmets-and-shoulder pads workout on the practice fields. It was Alabama’s one practice before breaking for spring break.
The Crimson Tide resumes spring practice March 21.
“When we have Easter fall into our spring practice calendar, we don’t practice the Saturday before Easter, so the players can go home,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “So, we moved that practice to one day ahead, and it just happened be this year that it was right before spring break.
“This has happened on several occasions before. It think it really does more good than harm, because players really understand a lot about what they need to do to get through practice.”
The race to replace departed senior quarterback Jake Coker is Alabama’s most high-profile position battle this offseason. Barnett, who redshirted last season, comes in with rich credentials, but Saban plays quarterback races close to the vest.
Asked about Barnett’s development and maturity after one year in the program, Saban said it’s hard to answer after one practice.
“It’ll be interesting to see how all these young guys — we’ve got three young quarterbacks that all are going to have an opportunity this spring compete at a position that maturity is a very important factor in,” Saban said. “Blake had some ups and downs last year with some injuries and illness, things that probably held him back a little bit, so we’re all kind of anxious to see how he matured this spring, as well.”
Alabama’s quarterbacks this spring also include sophomore David Cornwell, junior Cooper Bateman and freshman Jalen Hurts.
Only Bateman played last season, starting against Ole Miss and appearing in seven games as a quarterback. He appeared in all 15 games as the holder for field goals and extra points.
Cornwell, considered a top competitor going into fall camp, didn’t travel with the team until postseason.
Hurts is an early enrollee and practiced with the Tide during the 2015 postseason. He helped to simulate Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson leading up Alabama’s College Football Playoff championship game appearance.
As for other notes from the first day of spring practice:
Wide receiver Robert Foster (shoulder) was wearing a black non-contact jersey but working with quarterbacks. He was wearing No. 1 instead of 8. He missed much of the 2015 season.
▪ Also in non-contact jerseys were defensive end Jonathan Allen (shoulder surgery) and left tackle Cam Robinson (shoulder surgery). Injured players on exercise bikes included tight end Dakota Ball (foot), wide receiver Raheem Falkins (leg), safety Eddie Jackson (leg) and linebacker Shawn Jennings (knee injury from high school).
Saban said all are unlikely to participate in spring practice.
▪ Practicing were cornerback Tony Brown and defensive back Marlon Humphrey. Brown was suspended for Alabama’s playoff games against Michigan State and Clemson, and Humphrey had foot/toe injuries.
Saban said Brown remains on suspension until a date to be determined.
▪ Running back Bo Scarbrough’s weight loss was noticeable. He lists at 230 pounds, down from last season’s list of 240.
Saban said the weight loss has nothing to do with injuries and is part of routine evaluation with training staff to reach optimal performance weight.
▪ Saban lauded the team’s winter workouts.
“We had a really good offseason program,” he said. “I really liked the players’ effort. I saw a lot of improvement in players leading up to today.
“There’s always a lot of anxiety any time you have a lot of new players that have new roles when you have a first practice, but I was pleased with the effort.”