First Day Notes

The hydrometer, a fancy-looking device set up to measure the air temperature and humidity level, was a popular attraction for observers and Tuesday's opening fall practice for the Alabama football team. The meter registered as high as 110 degrees in the sun at one point in the day. Last year on a hot day the temperature reading was as high as 114.

A few players were slowed by the heat at times, and needed a breather in the midst of a drill. D.J. Hall said post-practice that he wasn't in as good of shape as most of his teammates, and he was one who was effected by the heat. Nikita Stover has asthma, and he battled the heat a bit early on, but had three nice catches in the team period at the end of practice. Will Oakley appeared to get most of the first group repetitions.

A football practice without pads can be misleading. Some players look great without pads and recede when the threat of being hit hard comes into play, while others are exactly the opposite.

Quarterback Jimmy Barnes didn't appear to be anywhere near the 239 pounds he was listed on the reporting roster. Barnes told me in the summer he had lost 11 pounds and was down to 223, which is more like how he looked today.

True freshman quarterback Greg McElroy threw some nices passes, at times receiving Mike Shula's compliments, and like any freshman misfired on occasion. John Parker Wilson looked clearly the sharpest quarterback.

Brandon Fanney's reporting weight of 253 might be accurate, however. Defensive players and staff, per UA policy, weren't available for interviews today, but Fanney's jersey draped off his body.

Roy Upchurch indeed changed numbers from the 27 he wore as a true freshman and in the spring, but he went to number 5, instead of the 25 listed on the roster.

Shula said Monday that Glen Coffee was at or near 100 per cent health wise after sports hernia surgery in the summer, and Coffee looked full speed Tuesday. He said after practice that he was able to get in two weeks of conditioning work, but he still had catching up to do in that area.

Javier Arenas was a bright spot on defense. Thomas Murphy, who covers Bama for the Mobile Register and writes a weekly column for this web site, was talking about Arenas' impressive work in individual drills, and moments later Arenas made a great move in one-on-one coverage against Matt Caddell, stepping inside the receiver on a slant pass to pick off John Parker Wilson's pass.

In the "never thought you'd see it" category, was a team drill in which receiver-turned-defensive end Zeke Knight was pass rushing against true freshman Andre Smith as the second units went against one another in team drills. Andre dealt with Knight handily on one play, but Knight followed it up by getting around the big man on the next play.

Food for Thought

One of the more ponderous notes of the day was a hypothetical situation in which a grayshirt, or delayed enrollment signee, could have a college career spanning eight calendar years.

Take quarterback John Parker Wilson, for instance. Wilson (or Drew Davis, who grayshirted at the same time) would be a true senior in 2008, and if forced by some unfortunate stroke of luck, could conceivably receive a medical redshirt year and sixth year that could extend his senior year to 2010 (again, we're not wishing anything on anyone, just using it as an example.) If Bama were to make a New Year's Day or later bowl, that would extend one's career into 2011.

Since he first joined the squad to practice with the team during Music City Bowl preperation in late 2004, his career (at least as a practice player) at Alabama could be from December 2004 to January 2011, a span of eight different years on the calendar.

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