TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The University of Alabama football team began spring practice on Monday afternoon with a two-hour workout in shorts and helmets at the Thomas-Drew Practice Facility.
"It was good to be out there practicing again," Alabama head coach Nick Saban said. "It seemed like it came up quickly. It doesn't seem like that long ago that we were having bowl practice. As a coach the thing that you enjoy most is teaching the players and practice is the best time to do that. Spring practice is an opportunity to establish a standard of excellence for your team."
The Crimson Tide welcomed nine mid-year signees to the practice field as Ronald Carswell, Trey DePriest, Quinton Dial, Aaron Douglas, Phillip Ely, Demetrius Hart, Wilson Love, Vinnie Sunseri and Jesse Williams strapped on the crimson helmet for the first time.
Alabama also welcomed three new coaches to the staff with wide receivers coach Mike Groh, defensive line coach Chris Rumph and offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland getting their first one-field look at the 2011 Crimson Tide squad.
The Tide returns nine starters on the defensive side of the football, led by 2010 captains Mark Barron and Dont'a Hightower. Other returning starters on the defense include defensive backs Dre Kirkpatrick, Robert Lester and Dee Milliner, defensive linemen Josh Chapman and Damion Square along with linebackers Nico Johnson and Courtney Upshaw.
The UA offense returns four starters along the front line, including center William Vlachos, guards Barrett Jones and Chance Warmack along with right tackle D.J. Fluker. The wide receiving corps will be without Julio Jones, but veteran starters Darius Hanks and Marquis Maze anchor the unit while Michael Williams returns for his second year as the starter at tight end.
"The number one thing about spring practice is establishing fundamentals," Saban said. "We lost games last year because of fundamentals; fundamentals as simple as how to carry a football."
Alabama will take Tuesday off and return to the practice field on Wednesday for the second of 15 spring workouts leading up to the A-Day Game at Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday, April 16.