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Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Tide get bigger, faster, stronger

By Alex Scarborough

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- If you want to see the results of Alabama's new $9 million, 37,000 square-foot weight room, look no further than the updated roster numbers. The sheer tonnage of pounds lost and gained in the span of one year is overwhelming.

Defensive end LaMichael Fanning dropped a team-high 28 pounds from the start of the 2012 season. The former four-star prospect hasn't made the impact many had hoped when he signed in 2011. But on the hoof, he's never looked more impressive, more agile, more ready to pounce.

Dalvin Tomlinson
Dalvin Tomlinson gained 21 pounds in his redshirt season at Alabama.
He's not the only one. Defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson added 21 pounds during his redshirt season. At 287 pounds, he'll be better equipped to handle the demanding SEC environment.

Tomlinson and Fanning are the "quick-twitch" defenders UA coach Nick Saban has been referring to ever since the loss to Texas A&M last season when Johnny Manziel made the Tide defense look downright slow at times. The Aggies racked up 20 points in the blink of an eye, mainly because the defense couldn't catch A&M's fleet-footed quarterback.

On signing day, Saban spoke about a new strategy for defending mobile quarterbacks like Manziel. In essence, Saban's goal is to fight fire with fire. If the opposing team has a fast quarterback, he wants fast defenders on the field to stop him.

"It being a higher priority because of spread offenses, more spread offenses, more athletic quarterbacks, those types of things," he said. "The same things that NFL teams are talking about when they play against RG3 or [Colin] Kaepernick or [Russell Wilson] who are athletic, run the ball. We have to be able to adapt to that kind of athleticism. That means we have to be more athletic to do that."

With the help of UA strength and conditioning coach Scott Cochran, the  Tide is attempting to get leaner and better equipped to handle the changing landscape of college football.

And it's not just happening on the defensive side of the ball. Offensive linemen are getting bigger and stronger, all the while maintaining enough quickness to get to the second level of the defense.

For more, check out the full list of movers and shakers in the weight room. Inside the TideNation forum The Tusk, you'll find the players who made the most noticeable changes as well as the progress of Alabama's early enrollees such as offensive lineman Brandon Hill, who has already dropped 21 pounds since arriving in January.