So what did Alabama junior safety Vinnie Sunseri do on his weekend vacation from football? He went to a high school game, his old school (Northridge) playing at Tuscaloosa Hillcrest.
Sunseri has never been far from football. His father, Sal, was an outstanding player and is still an excellent coach (currently at Florida State) and his brother, Tino, a former Pittsburgh star, is a quarerback in the Canadian Football League at Saskatchewan, eh.
On game days Vinnie is never far from the football. That was particularly evident against Virginia Tech when Sunseri scored his first college touchdown. Special teams (in the person of Christion Jones on a punt return and a kickoff return) and the offense (a run by T.J. Yeldon and a pass from A.J. McCarron to Christion Jones) scored two touchdowns each.
The other Bama touchdown came when Vinnie stepped in front of the intended Virginia Tech receiver, made the interception, and ran it back 38 yards for a score.
Looking back on the play, Sunseri said, “Before the play we got in the correct place where the coaches wanted us to be and after watching the film and seeing the kind of routes they ran out of different formations we were able to see the kind of route they were going to run.”
The coach’s son was not surprised that the coaches had him in the right place. It also takes a pass to the right place, though. Sunseri said that Tide Head Coach Nick Saban has opponents scouted to know with great accuracy where the receivers will go out of certain formations. Sometimes, however, the quarterback doesn’t deliver the ball to the right spot. Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas was right on the money, and Sunseri made him pay.
This week the Tide went back to basics for three days, spent two days working on Texas A&M, and then had the weekend to rest. Preparation for the Aggies begins Monday. Alabama will take on A&M at 2:30 p.m. CDT Saturday at Kyle Field in College Station. The game has been circled by all of college football as it matches last year’s national champion Crimson Tide against last year’s Heisman Trophy winner, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel and the only team to defeat Bama.
Although the past week was generally labeled a “bye” week, Sunseri begged to differ. “It hasn’t really been a bye week with Coach Saban,” he said. “We're excited for the opportunity, and I kind of like a week like this. He's been pushing us really hard and that's what we need. This is a team that last year surprised us, beat us. We've got to come out and have a lot of energy and enthusiasm every day in practice.”
He said all the scout team quarterbacks – Cooper Bateman, Parker McLeod, and Luke Del Rio – were playing the role of Manziel and added he expects the very mobile Blake Sims, who is Bama’s back-up quarterback, to give a hand to the scout team next week.
Sunseri said he remembered 2012 Texas A&M, a 29-24 winner over Alabama in Bryant-Denny Stadium, as being “a fast offense, really well coached. They don’t do a lot of stupid things and they don’t make a lot of mistakes. I’m really excited for the game. They’re a great team and we’re ready to go.”
As for Manziel, Sunseri called him “a great guy, a great player. Everybody’s talking about him, but I just look at him as a football player. He’s a great athlete, makes a lot of great plays off scrambles, but he can be a pocket passer, too, so we have to be ready for everything.”
Sunseri is correct that there has been a lot of conversation about Manziel. But the Tide safety said he didn’t know about that. He’s been locked in the Alabama practice facility since the start of the summer, it seems. “We’ve been in here all summer, all fall, so I haven’t heard all the things they talk about him,” Sunseri said. “We’re just worried about what we do. We’re going to take care of Alabama football. That’s all we care about.”
He said there is no such thing as over-preparing for an opponent. “You can never watch too much film, you can never have too many schemes,” he said. But as to whether he planned to watch Texas A&M on television against Sam Houston State on his off day, he said, “Maybe.”
Sunseri said he is excited about the Texas A&M game, but that he isn’t more motivated for the Aggies than for any other opponent. “You should get excited for every game if you’re a true competitor,” he said.
No one doubts that Vinnie Sunseri is a true competitor.