Plenty of talent in the secondary
Jones will be the unit leader
Jones will be the unit leader

Posted Jul 24, 2003


Some things never change. Generally speaking a nervous athlete, looking over his shoulder at competitors pressing from him behind, will continually get better.

From a coach’s point of view, you can never have too many talented players. And Chris Ball believes Bama’s secondary has more than its share.

“If everyone works hard like we’ve been doing so far, then we’ll be very good,” Secondary Coach Chris Ball said. “I think they’re heading that way.”

In an interview with BamaMag.com earlier this summer, Ball gave a quick rundown of the athletes comprising his depth chart. Obviously things can change, but heading into fall camp Charlie Peprah and Anthony Madison are his starting cornerbacks.

Starting cornerbacks Charlie Peprah (left) and Anthony Madison (right) relax after practice.

Peprah started eight games last season, leading the team with four picks. “Instincts and athletic ability are what come to mind,” Ball said of the third-year player. “Charlie’s got a great nose for the football. He’s got the size and athletic ability to be as good as anybody in the country.”

On the other side Anthony Madison played in every game last season, but this will be his first chance to start. “Anthony has got great skills,” Ball said. “In the spring he just basically outworked everybody. He’s become a lot smarter football player, not just relying on his work ethic. The mental aspect is coming around.”

At only 5-9, some fans worry about Madison's height. But Ball doesn’t agree. “If you’re short but not real strong--just fast--then you’re going to have a hard time playing, because everybody has got a big receiver. But Anthony’s also very strong.”

“Actually, having both Anthony and Charlie is good,” Ball added, “because I can match up Charlie with a taller guy.”

At free safety, senior Charles Jones should be the rock of this year’s unit. “Charles is our seasoned veteran,” Ball said. “He’s not necessarily the biggest and strongest, but he understands the game. He’s got good speed. He adjusts well. Nothing seems to phase him. He’s very consistent and reliable.”

Tall, athletic and fast, Harper should take over at strong safety this season.

A fifth-year senior, Jones has played for four different position coaches at Alabama. “He’s had a lot of different coaches, which has hurt him,” Ball noted. “He’s learned a lot, but he’s never really gotten consistent schemes.”

Roman Harper, one of the better all-around athletes on the squad, finished spring drills first team at strong safety. “He has all the tools,” Ball said of Harper. “He knows the coverages. He’s not afraid to hit you. If he works hard all summer, he’ll be a valuable player for us.”

Ball is happy with the talent of his starting four, but a look at Bama’s reserves proves the overall strength of his unit. Not counting incoming freshmen, the Tide is two-deep at safety and a solid three-deep on the corners.

“You want to see (your backups) push the guys ahead of them even more,” Ball explained. “I told them after spring that they have as much a chance to play as anybody, because they’re as talented as anybody. This fall is going to be competitive.”

Redshirt freshman Ramzee Robinson has the look of a future star. Ball commented, “Ramzee was our key reserve coming out of spring. He’ll be our nickel back unless he gets beat out. Ramzee had a great spring.”

Ramzee Robinson should be the first cornerback off the bench this season, plus the redshirt freshman will be Bama’s nickel back.

Senior David Scott isn’t as fast as some, but he played very well in the A-Day game. “David had a good spring,” Ball said. “He had an excellent spring game. He’s another guy that if he worked hard all summer will be able to contribute.”

Veteran cornerbacks Thurman Ward and Roberto McBride would start for many teams. “Having guys like Thurman and Roberto and calling them third string helps a lot,” Ball acknowledged. “The battle at corner is going to be competitive.”

“Thurman is going to play some safety, too,” Ball added.

At safety Ball believes principal back-ups Chris James and Carlos Andrews can play. “Carlos played really well at A-Day, which was great to see, because I needed another safety. He did have a great spring. I told Carlos he needs to lose some weight, and recently he’s looking great. He’s a physical player.”

Walk-on Sammie Autrey has good athleticism and finished spring drills third-string at strong safety. It’s also very likely that safety help will be provided by some newcomers this fall, though barring injury most will probably redshirt.

Strong safety Carlos Andrews finished spring drills on a high note and should play a lot this fall. (GettyImages)

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