TUSCALOOSA -- Darwin Holt has perhaps the most unique view on the chatter of SEC expanding west to Texas A&M.
He actually played football for both.
After starting his career in College Station, Holt followed coach Bear Bryant to Tuscaloosa in 1959. Two years later, Holt was a member of the 1961 Tide national championship team as a linebacker on the dominating defense.
That group gathered at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its undefeated title run.
With rumors and speculation crisscrossing the Internet, Holt is clear on his stance regarding Texas A&M or any other school joining the Southeastern Conference. He’s “totally against it.”
“Well, I think it’s not very good,” Holt said. “You know, they’re desperate out there. Why should we help them? Why should we divide the pie up more by bringing in different teams? We’ve set the record. We’ve shown people how to do it, and we have the No. 1 conference in the country. So why do we have to go in there and help them out?”
Though the statistical embargo from Saturday’s scrimmage included kicking numbers, coach Nick Saban liked what he saw from the special teams.
Punters Cody Mandell and Jay Williams “were more consistent” and place kickers Jeremy Shelly and Cade Foster only missed difficult attempts, Saban said.
The kick returners still need work.
Senior Marquis Maze is making progress judging and handling kicks, Saban said.
“He’s certainly is explosive and the kind of guy we need there,” he said.
Redshirt freshman DeAndrew White and true freshman Christion Jones were also mentioned among young players with kick-return potential.
Junior Trent Richardson returned 24 of the 40 kickoffs sent Alabama’s direction last year including one for a touchdown, but Saban earlier expressed interest in finding other options. Maze received 21 of the 28 returnable punts in 2010 and averaged 12.7 yards per attempt.
The broken bone in Dont’a Hightower’s left hand didn’t keep him from playing most of Saturday’s scrimmage.
Saban said the linebacker played in about “90 percent” of the action.
“I think we took him out when we got to goal-line (defense) at the end,” he said. “But, he did fine. He basically missed one practice. He practice twice (Friday) and he was able to scrimmage quite a bit (Saturday).”
The only injury of note from Saturday involved sophomore cornerback Dee Milliner.
Saban said he “got hit in the chin today, got a laceration and a little ding,” and is expected to be just fine.
Redshirt freshman tight end Brian Vogler (Brookstone) was held out of action after having off-season shoulder surgery. Linebacker Alex Watkins, still recovering from a spring knee injury, was also kept held out of the scrimmage and has been practicing just once a day.
The concussion suffered by freshman offensive lineman Ryan Kelly a week ago kept him out of action again Saturday. Saban expects he’ll “be back shortly.”