Trent Davidson, a regular at tight end as a true freshman in 2004 and then held out last season after August foot surgery, got a look at a new position Saturday as the Alabama football team had its second day of practice in shorts. He was wearing a famous jersey number, 54, and he was working at right tackle, a move that may or may not prove to be permanent.
Davidson, from Brewton, would probably like to stay at tight end. When recruited, he was regarded as an excellent pass catcher as well blocker, although he did not have a good first year as a receiver. One factor in a final position destination is that the 6-5 Davidson might not be at his reported 270 weight. He could be a few pounds over, just enough to move him out of the crowded tight end position and over to the tackle spot.
Alabama's depth chart at the start of spring training Friday showed seven men at the position, headed up by Travis McCall, the starter in the Cotton Bowl, and Nick Walker, starter through most of Bama's 10-2 season in 2005. Charles Hoke and walk-ons Barrett Earnest and Patrick Burch were listed ahead of Davidson, who was ranked ahead of only Cole Harvey, a grayshirt freshman who had previously worked in the offensive line and at fullback.
Alabama's second day of spring football practice was conducted on a very rainy day. Because it was one of the mandated "shorts practice" days–players were in shorts and helmets, Shula elected to take the Crimson Tide into the indoor practice facility for the two-hour workout. "We were in shorts, it was really wet, and we had some guests (the players' parents), so we decided to go inside," Shula said.
After taking Sunday and Monday off, Bama will be back on the practice field Tuesday, the first spring work in full gear. Spring training will conclude with the A-Day Game on April 1.
Shula ticked off a few positives. There were no new injuries, practice was better than it had been on the first day Friday, and he said the attitude of the team is good.
There was some clarification of a couple of injuries from Friday's work. Sophomore wide receiver Will Oakley said he had strained his left hamstring. Last fall he suffered through problems with his right hamstring. Senior linebacker Juwan Simpson has a strained Achilles rather than a sprained ankle, as first thought. He is described as "day to day."
There were a couple of negatives regarding the offense. Shula said, "The ball was on the ground too many times. We had three fumbled snaps. We've got to get that right."
As for the quarterbacks, the Tide head coach said, "It was about the same as yesterday. We have to get the ball out faster. We're holding on to it. When things happen that you don't want to happen you have to do something with the football."
Shula had particular praise for senior safety Jeffrey Dukes, who has moved into the spot vacated by the graduated Roman Harper. "Jeffrey Dukes has a ton of range," Shula said. He has great speed and a long arm span. He started in the Cotton Bowl and did great. Now he's getting all the reps this spring. He has gotten better every week he has been here."
With Oakley out, sophomore Nikita Stover has moved into the second spot at wide receiver behind D.J. Hall. Shula said he has done "okay" the first two days. He added, "For not having had any experience (here), he's done pretty well."
A highly-publicized position move this spring is that of junior Ezekial Knight from split end to defensive end. Shula said, "He's a little rusty, but looking at the tape this morning he was a little better Friday than we had thought. He's got a great attitude, and that's to be expected."
Redshirt freshman running back Roy Upchurch is expected to be limited for spring practice after having foot surgery just prior to the start of last season, but he appeared to be well on the road to recovery in Saturday's practice. "He's doing pretty well," Shula said. "He had a nice cut."
Shula said that even though there are a number of running backs and that there is a problem in trying to give them all work in team drills, that there are enough individual drills to get an idea of what they can do. Bama returns senior starter Kenneth Darby at running back.