TUSCALOOSA — Defensive linemen were everywhere and Sal Sunseri couldn’t handle it.
This new routine will take some getting used to.
Alabama’s first spring practice with three new assistant coaches running different drills caused friendly friction Monday afternoon. Sunseri’s linebackers ran out of room when new hire Chris Rumph’s defensive linemen spread out for a drill. So the three-year Alabama veteran shouted over to the energetic Rumph.
“Oh we won’t foreclose on you,” Rumph said laughing and bouncing around the field on the perfect spring afternoon. “We won’t foreclose!”
It was just one slice of the new rhythm at Crimson Tide football practice. Rumph joins fellow recent staff additions Mike Groh (wide receivers) and Jeff Stoutland (offensive line). The program had just one assistant coaching change a year ago when Jeremy Pruitt moved from player development to the secondary when James Willis left for Texas Tech.
Nick Saban said there isn’t much difference on the practice field no matter how many new coaches join the ranks.
“We don’t really hire people to come in and do what they do,” Saban said. “We hire them to do what we want them to do. … I’m pleased and happy with the staff chemistry that we have — the way the guys work together.”
Mark Barron was the other notable face at practice Monday
The safety was arrested on misdemeanor charges of hindering prosecution after lying to Mobile police officers early Sunday morning. The All-American was reportedly covering for a cousin who crashed a car on Interstate-10 at 5 a.m. Sunday.
“Mark Barron used poor judgment in sorta protecting his friend, his cousin, rather than cooperating with authority and giving them the information they needed to investigate their case,” Saban said. “We always think our players should respect people that are in a position of authority — especially the police, who do a lot to protect all of us. I think Mark learned that he did not use good judgment in this case and in not saying what he could have said.”
Barron wore a black non-contact jersey while continuing to rehab a torn pectoral muscle suffered against Auburn in November.
Fellow defensive back Robby Green was also absent from practice while serving a suspension of team rules. He missed all of last season serving a NCAA-mandated suspension.
“Any other discipline that’s going to be handled with either one of these players will be handled internally and will not be talked about publically,” Saban said.
For those who were on the field, having the newer and younger assistants created somewhat of a different atmosphere.
Linebacker Dont’a Hightower saw an unfamiliar scene when looking over at the defensive linemen working with Rumph.
“I’ve never looked at (nose guard) Josh Chapman and seen him so tired in the first couple of periods,” Hightower said. “You know that the d-line is working and coach Rumph is working, because he’s right there sweating with them.”
Stoutman also brings an infusion of youth replacing Joe Pendry who retired in January after 40 years of coaching.
Running, jumping and skipping around players instructing at the beginning of Monday’s practice was certainly a change of pace. His high-volume coaching rivaled the famously loud Sunseri.
“He’s obviously a younger guy and very intense,” center William Vlachos said. “Today was our first real pre-practice meeting and he was yelling the whole time and we all learned a lot and we enjoyed it.”