The two-time defending BCS National Champion Alabama Crimson Tide opened up spring practice over the weekend, and there were quite a few new faces in different position groupings.
Running back Dee Hart and wide receivers Christion Jones and Cyrus Jones participated with the defensive backs on Saturday and Monday according to The Crimson White, while linebacker Xzavier Dickson dropped down and worked with the defensive line on Saturday. Christion Jones split time at his natural wide receiver position in both practice sessions.
There's two things that you need from experimenting with a player, Whether a guy can do something if you need him in the fall and if something bad happens at a position in the fall, you have some basic knowledge of what he would have to do to be able to fill in for you if you need for him to.
These are not permanent moves, none of them. They're experiments.
Not exactly uncommon in spring practices, and certainly something that Saban—of all college football head coaches—should do, considering the abundance of talent up and down the Crimson Tide roster.
Saban can say that the moves are for insurance purposes; and he's probably being truthful. But what's the more simplistic purpose of conducting an experiment? To see if it works.
If it does, especially in the cases of Hart and Cyrus Jones, expect those experiments to become permanent before toe meets leather in the Georgia Dome against Virginia Tech on Aug. 31.
In Hart's case, it'd probably be a good thing. The redshirt sophomore is coming off of a torn ACL suffered against Ole Miss last fall, and if he stays at running back, will find himself surrounded by studs who are fighting for carries.
Sure, Hart was a hot shot prospect in the class of 2011. But T.J. Yeldon, Derrick Henry, Tyren Jones, Kenyan Drake, Altee Tenpenny and Alvin Kamara were too coming out out of high school. The last time I checked, there's only one football allowed on the field per play.
Despite some attrition in the receiving corps throughout the season, Cyrus Jones only caught five passes for 52 yards during his freshman campaign at the Capstone. The 5'10", 192-pound athlete made most of his impact on special teams as a kick and punt returner.
The lion's share of Alabama's 2012 receiving corps will remain in tact in 2013, and will include a couple of more prospects signed in February including 5-star stud Robert Foster and class of 2012 stud Chris Black, who missed last season with a shoulder injury.
"I don't even know that we're looking to make permanent changes," Saban told AL.com. "We're looking to see if any of those guys can help us, and if this would be a better circumstance for how much they would be able to contribute to our team."
A better circumstance for Hart, Jones and Saban could be if those "experiments" are successful.