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April 13, 2010

Notebook: Tide seeking seamless transition at tight end

TUSCALOOSA _ Although he's just about the only new offensive face outside of the line, University of Alabama tight end Michael Williams isn't considering himself a rookie.

But he is using it to challenge himself.

"I take it more upon myself, being the new part of the offense is going to make it the same or better," Williams said. "This offense can be great, explosive. Everything that the No. 1 offense in the NCAA can be."

Williams played in all 14 games last season, primarily as a run blocker, and had three catches for 29 yards.

He's now replaced Colin Peek, who had 26 catches for 313 yards and three touchdowns, including a picturesque over-the-shoulder grab against Florida in the SEC Championship Game.

"Mike was a young guy last year, but was someone we had a lot of confidence in," quarterback Greg McElroy said. "Obviously when Peek went down prior to the Tennessee game he stepped in and we didn't miss a beat. Nothing disrespectful toward Peek, just Mike has a big body, a good understanding of the offense and knows how to use his body."

McElroy compared the way Williams can block out a defender or reach out to catch a ball to like a basketball player on the court.
"That game experience will help me out a lot," Williams said about Tennessee and LSU, against which he had all three receptions.

While Williams has been lining up at tight end ahead of Chris Underwood, Preston Dial remains the starting H-back ahead of Brad Smelley and converted running back Mike Marrow.

"You have to know both to play on this team, but most of the tine I'll be on the line and he'll be the H," Williams said, adding that otherwise he's: "Just practicing and getting better. I'm trying to take it full-steam ahead, realize the opportunity and go with it."

A-Day schedule announced
Saturday's schedule of events has been finalized:

11 a.m.: Gates to Bryant-Denny Stadium open

Noon : A-Club Flag Football Game

12:15: Walk of Fame ceremony at Denny Chimes honoring 2009 team captains Javier Arenas, Mike Johnson and Rolando McClain.

ESPN will broadcast A-Day starting at 2 p.m.

Injury report
Both linebacker Nico Johnson and offensive lineman Chad Lindsay, who missed last Saturday's scrimmage due to knee sprains, were back practicing in their usual spots, with Johnson at interior linebacker and Lindsay center on the third unit.

Freshman offensive lineman Russell Raines remained in black and rode an exercise bike.

Although he appeared to be limited Saturday, wide receiver Michael Bowman was working with the wide receivers during individual drills.

Outside linebacker Milton Talbert (shoulder) and center William Vlachos (foot) are the only players unlikely to play A-Day due to injury.

Mix and match
Coaches appeared to be grouping players in preparation for A-Day.

For example, freshmen cornerbacks DeMarcus Milliner and John Fulton were still paired together, but with the second unit instead of the third. That could mean they'll start with the second unit. Rod Woodson was also working at first-unit star Tuesday.

Ed Stinson went through individual drills second at Jack linebacker. Defensive tackle Brandon Moore appeared to be with the third unit, while Anthony Orr was fourth at left defensive end behind Marcell Dareus, Undra Billingsley and Darrington Sentimore.

Kendall Kelly scrimmaged at safety, with Brandon Gibson with the receivers. Both have been learning safety this spring as a depth precaution.

There were no changes on the first-unit offensive line, with Chance Warmack at left guard and D.J. Fluker at right tackle.

Tide-bits
Nick Saban will receive the Amos Alonzo Stagg Coach of the Year Award at the United States Sports Academy in Daphne on May 18. The event is open to the public with free admission.

Coaches still haven't told the players the format for A-Day, but regardless the offense will be pretty vanilla due to other teams watching from afar. "It'll be very cut-and-dry," McElroy said. Incidentally, one of his two interceptions in last Saturday's scrimmage was on a Hail Mary pass.

Williams is the answer to a trivia question as he was the first Alabama player to touch the ball against Texas. "National Championship Game, kickoff, I look up it's coming right to me. It doesn't get any more exciting on that." As for the second kickoff, "That was my mistake I didn't get it. I thought I heard him call me off but I didn't. My mistake."


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