Alabama Football: Crimson Tide Hopes For Javier Arenas to Remain Special

Nic GulasSenior Analyst IJuly 5, 2008

It's no hidden secret that Alabama head coach Nick Saban is a fan of the little guy. 

When he came to Alabama, he found a little guy to cheer for in Javier Arenas. 

Arenas, a distant cousin of Washington Wizards star Gilbert Arenas, was already a fan favorite when Saban took charge, thanks largely to his previous work.

In his freshman season in 2006, Arenas was already making waves amongst the Tide faithful under Mike Shula.  He was averaging 19 yards per return on kickoffs and really made a name for himself with his 65-yard punt return against Florida International during the 2006 Homecoming game. 

To finish off the year, Arenas took a punt 86 yards for a momentous touchdown against Oklahoma State in the Independence Bowl.  The return was good enough for not only a school record, but also an Independence Bowl record. 

By ending with such a bang, Arenas set the bar high for himself entering 2007, and he didn't disappoint. 

On the very first play of the season, Arenas took the opening kickoff 30 yards, setting the tone for what would be far from a Sophomore Slump. 

In 2007, Arenas averaged 15.4 yards per return on punts, good enough to place him 12th nationally on the season.  He had 5 returns, punts or kickoffs, go for 50+ yards, including a go-ahead punt return for a touchdown against LSU for 61 yards, a 62-yard kickoff return against Tennessee, and a season-long return of 69 yards on a Vanderbilt punt.    

All this success in the return game was something to be expected, however.

In his senior year of high school, Arenas set his school record for most kickoffs returned for touchdowns (3) and most punts returned for touchdowns (4). 

The record setting has followed him to college, where Arenas is currently 2nd in Tide history with three punts returned for touchdowns and two seasons to go. 

Entering 2008, Arenas looks to be a huge factor for this year's team in a crucial part of the game. 

Although he will sparingly touch the ball, his knack for big returns will loom large on a team with an unproven offense early in the season. 

With the addition of Saban, Arenas has seen a large improvement in his play as a defensive back due to the one on one coaching Saban provides at the position. 

Arenas began to see time last season at the position and provided a big boost in the nickel and dime packages later in the year. 

This season, however, Arenas will see more extensive time and may even be a starter by the time week one rolls around. 

No matter what he does on defense, though, the six-time Alabama Special Teams Player of the Week in 2007 will always be known for his return game. 

Any Bama fan will tell you thats what really makes this little guy special.