March 16, 2013 10:57:46 PM
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The University of Alabama football team began spring practice on Saturday afternoon with a two-hour workout in shorts and helmets on the Thomas-Drew Practice Fields.
"The main objective to me for spring practice is to focus on player improvement," Alabama coach Nick Saban said. "Whether it is what a player needs to be able to do, the technique of how he should do it and to have an understanding conceptually of why it is important to do it that way.
"In the spring you don't have game plans. You don't have to change what you are doing and it is an opportunity for everyone to know our offense, our defense and our special teams -- and to understand what is expected of them. I think it is also a time that a player needs to learn how to practice."
The Crimson Tide welcomed nine mid-year signees to the practice field: quarterback Cooper Bateman, junior college offensive lineman Leon Brown, quarterback Luke Del Rio, wide receiver Raheem Falkins, running back Derrick Henry, offensive lineman Brandon Hill, tight end O.J. Howard, quarterback Parker McLeod, and defensive back Jai Miller.
Alabama also welcomed three new coaches to the staff with secondary coach Greg Brown, assistant head coach and offensive line coach Mario Cristobal and wide receivers coach Billy Napier.
The two-time reigning national champions return 12 starters on offense and defense and Cody Mandell at punter.
The offense returns six starters, including quarterback AJ McCarron, who was a third-team Associated Press All-American in 2012. The Tide welcomes back three starting wide receivers in Amari Cooper, Kevin Norwood, and Christion Jones. Alabama also has two starters back on the offensive line -- left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio and right guard Anthony Steen.
The Tide brings back seven starters on the defensive side of the football with Butkus Award finalist and consensus All-American C.J. Mosley leading the linebacker crops. The Crimson Tide also returns linebackers Adrian Hubbard, Trey DePriest, and Xzavier Dickson, while defensive end Ed Stinson anchors the front. Cornerback Deion Belue and safety HaHa Clinton-Dix man the secondary, with rising sophomore Geno Smith, who started two games late in the season.
The Crimson Tide will practice Monday, Wednesday, and Friday this week before taking a week off for spring break. Alabama will resume spring practice Monday, April 1, with the fifth of 15 spring practices.
Alabama's 2013 A-Day Game is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday, April 20, at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The A-Day Game is once again free to the public and will be televised live on ESPN2.