Alabama Crimson Tide: Marvin Shinn

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- University of Alabama backup wide receiver Marvin Shinn will not participate in spring practice and is likely to transfer elsewhere, according to coach Nick Saban.

"Marvin Shinn has elected to not go through the offseason program," Saban said on Wednesday. "Therefore, he will not be going through spring practice or be a part of the team.

"I assume that he's going to decide to go someplace else."

Shinn, who caught two passes in the national championship game and a total of six on the season, was staring down a stacked depth chart when spring camp opened in a few weeks. He would have likely landed anywhere from fifth to eighth among receivers as Kevin Norwood, Amari Cooper, Christion Jones, Kenny Bell, DeAndrew White, Cyrus Jones and Chris Black are all expected to be healthy and ready to compete in 2013.

Alabama also signed Robert Foster, the No. 2-ranked receiver in the Class of 2013.

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- AJ McCarron was almost giddy when he spoke with ESPN's Tom Rinaldi on the morning of national signing day. Alabama's junior quarterback has won two national championships as a starter, and he broke all kinds of passing records this past season. And despite all he has accomplished, the steely, strong-armed veteran had something to get worked up about, something to look forward to next season.

McCarron wasn't smiling because of the big board of recruits being filled up in the Alabama football offices. He checked out of the recruiting game the minute he signed his own national letter of intent. The quarterback instead went flush when Rinaldi asked what excited him most about the upcoming season.

[+] EnlargeHoward
AP Photo/Phelan M. EbenhackNewcomer O.J. Howard, an H-back, will bolster an already multitalented group catching rockets from AJ McCarron in 2013.
"My receivers," McCarron answered, laughing nervously. "I look out there and see the explosive guys out wide that can make plays."

McCarron won't lack for options in the passing game in 2013. All of his starters return, including fab freshman Amari Cooper. Cooper, Kevin Norwood and Christion Jones will be joined by a talented group of backups: DeAndrew White, Kenny Bell, Chris Black, Marvin Shinn and Cyrus Jones. Throw in the two wideout prospects and one tight end signed on Wednesday and the list of targets goes up. Robert Foster, the No. 2 receiver in the ESPN 150, and O.J. Howard, the second-ranked tight end/H-back in the country, will make an impact sooner or later.

"We have different types of receivers -- bigger guys, smaller guys that are fast," McCarron told Rinaldi. "It's going to be a fun year for our offense."

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Editor's note: The season is over and the Alabama Crimson Tide are national champions yet again. But what happens next? TideNation examines the most pressing storylines of the offseason as the Tide gear up for another title defense.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Spring practice is roughly two months away. The start of another Alabama title defense is right around the corner.

Nine early enrollees are already on campus. The offseason conditioning program is in full swing. Rest assured Scott Cochran, the Crimson Tide's raucous strength and conditioning coach, has put the 2012-13 championship to bed. Inside the football offices, the page has been turned. The time for competition is now.

With that in mind, let's break down the four most intriguing position battles set to unfold over the coming months.

Editor's note: The season is over and the Alabama Crimson Tide are national champions yet again. But what happens next? TideNation examines the most pressing storylines of the offseason as the Tide gear up for another title defense.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- It's not that Alabama's offense wasn't effective. It's not that it didn't have home-run capability before. But in the last year coach Nick Saban and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier have taken it to another level. The Crimson Tide, once thought of as a "three yards and a cloud of dust" operation, are finding more and more big plays in the passing game.

How? Well, if you can't beat them, join them, right?


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Editor’s note: Every Tuesday and Thursday until national signing day, TideNation will review each position and look at who figures to start, who could rise up the depth chart and who might be on the way. Today we’ll look at the wide receivers.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Even with a national championship in hand, the Alabama coaching staff must look back at the passing game and wonder, "What if?"

What if DeAndrew White hadn't torn up his knee against Ole Miss? Would Amari Cooper have won the starting job and become AJ McCarron's go-to target if he had?


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Editor's note: The season is over and the Alabama Crimson Tide are national champions yet again. But what happens next? TideNation examines the most pressing storylines of the offseason as the Tide gear up for another title defense.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Dee Milliner said it before he left for the NFL draft. The junior cornerback knew the kind of talent Alabama had at receiver then and what it would look like a year from now with quarterback AJ McCarron at the helm.

"When he comes back next year, that’s just even more experience on top of what he’s got now," Milliner said. "With the weapons we have at receiver, he can be unbelievable as a quarterback."


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Editor’s note: Every Tuesday and Thursday between now and national signing day, TideNation will review each position and look at who figures to start, who could rise up the depth chart and who might be on the way. Today we’ll look at the tight ends and H-backs.


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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Watching Kenny Bell run through drills and speed through his routes, it's hard to believe that only a month ago he broke his tibia, an injury that required surgery. But as the scars form, the junior wide receiver who was Alabama's best deep threat at the position is trying to get himself prepared for Notre Dame and Miami. The trip to South Beach for the BCS Championship Game is only days away.

TBD
Rob Carr/Getty ImagesKenny Bell was Alabama's best deep threat before being sidelined by a broken tibia.
"He's doing pretty well," sophomore wideout Christion Jones said. It's common for Alabama to allow injured players to stay away from speaking to the media. "He's doing really well to get back and get ready and get involved in practice."

Jones, who himself dealt with a sprained ankle earlier in the season, said he's been surprised by Bell's recovery. Though Bell is still limited in what he can do and continues to wear a black no-contact jersey, the fact that he's even on the field is impressive to Jones, his sophomore teammate from Adamsville, Ala.

"He's recovering quick and hopefully he'll be back and ready to play against Notre Dame," Jones said.

Coach Nick Saban said on Dec. 18 that Bell was "cleared to start doing some things" and that "how he does, how he manages, what his tolerance is to activity is will be determined as we go." Saban added then that he couldn't "make a call as to whether he'll play in the game or not at this juncture."

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Alabama freshman wideout Chris Black will be on the sidelines and ready to play Saturday afternoon when the No. 2-ranked Crimson Tide face No. 3 Georgia in the SEC Championship Game, according to coach Nick Saban.

The staff had been weighing whether or not to burn the speedy receiver's redshirt before this week. A number of injuries at the position, most notably the loss of DeAndrew White and Kenny Bell for the season, forced the staff's hand.

"The decision was made with him and his family, not just by me," Saban said on Wednesday. "Chris wants to play and can help the team by playing."

Black, who was expected to contribute this season before injuring his shoulder during fall camp, has practiced in contact drills all week in preparation of the conference title game. The 5-foot-11, 178-pound product of Jacksonville, Fla., was an early enrollee and completed spring camp.

"We're trying to get Chris ready to play and he's had good carry over from what he knew before," Saban said.

If Black plays, he would be the fourth freshman receiver in the rotation, joining Amari Cooper, Cyrus Jones and Marvin Shinn. Cooper, another top-10 receiver in the 2012 signing class, has become a starter alongside junior Kevin Norwood and sophomore Christion Jones. Cooper leads all receivers in catches (45), yards (767) and touchdowns (eight) this season.

Black's addition would make up for the loss of Bell, who went down with a broken leg against Auburn last week. Bell filled in at multiple positions for the Crimson Tide, coming in to spell Norwood on the outside and Jones in the slot.

"Oh, great player for us," cornerback Dee Milliner said of Black, as the Tide's top defensive back has gone against Black often in practice. "Wish he could have played for us this season. He could’ve been another receiver we could have used very much. … He’s been practicing against us for, like, the last three weeks -- doing things, giving us a great look of different receivers from different teams. He does a great job with that. Hopefully, if he can play he’ll be a big step for us."

Norwood said Black coming back this late in the season would be "very difficult" because he hasn't practiced with the team as much as others. Still, he remained optimistic Black could make a contribution.

"With his mentality, I'm pretty sure he can come away with something," Norwood said.
An analysis of three key plays in Alabama's 49-0 win over Western Carolina on Saturday at home -- and what those plays mean moving forward for the Crimson Tide:


Hitting the ground running



Dave Martin/Associated Press

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Blake SimsAP Photo/Rogelio V. SolisAlabama coach Nick Saban indicated that Blake Sims could get more time at running back as the Crimson Tide look to replace injured RB Dee Hart.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Early last week it became official that Alabama starting wide receiver DeAndrew White and backup running back Dee Hart would miss the remainder of the season with knee surgery. But it wasn't until Monday that the players tasked with replacing the two became clear.

Alabama coach Nick Saban said backup H-Back Brent Calloway and backup quarterback Blake Sims would be the top two candidates to replace Hart in the backfield.

"We have two guys that I think we have to get ready to some degree to be able to give us some depth at running back," Saban said. "Calloway is a guy who played running back here for a long time, who we tried to make an H-back, who we're going to give some repetition to at that position. Blake Sims has been a running back in the past, even though he's sort of a backup quarterback right now, I still think that his skill-set would allow him very easily with his understanding of the offense and previous experience to go back and be able to play that position to some degree."

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- By the time halftime mercifully came at Razorback Stadium, the exits were the only thing Arkansas fans wanted to see. Alabama's throttling of Arkansas was enough to make the home crowd brave the hills of the Fayetteville campus and find their way back home.

[+] EnlargeKenyan Drake
Nelson Chenault/US PresswireKenyan Drake is vying to become the second option at running back behind T.J. Yeldon.
While Alabama built its lead, the stadium took on the feel of a spring scrimmage, a few fans dotting the stands while rookies took to the field with something to prove. What they missed, breaking down their tents and barbecues while Alabama won 52-0, was a glimpse at the future of the Crimson Tide.

In junk time, a number of first- and second-year players got a chance to not only play, but face an SEC opponent on the road.

Freshman Marvin Shinn had his first career reception, so did Danny Woodson Jr.

Denzel Devall recorded his first sack, as did D.J. Pettway.

The thrill of playing and hearing coach Nick Saban scream on the sidelines is an experience senior center Barrett Jones said is invaluable to freshmen.

The old hand on the Alabama roster sat on the sidelines Saturday and remembered where he got his start.

"The first game I ever played in was 2008 right here before I redshirted," Jones said. "It's such a really cool experience to get some of those younger guys in there."

Jones said getting reps with the first-team line and the backup quarterbacks could prove important, too. Starting quarterback AJ McCarron injured his hand during the game and Phillip Ely came in to spell him under center, followed by Blake Sims.

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Countdown to kickoff: 2

August, 30, 2012
8/30/12
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From now until kickoff in Arlington, Texas, we'll be counting down the days before Alabama and Michigan get the season started. Today, we move to No. 2 and what it means to UA football. See all the previous editions here.

Alabama sophomore DeAndrew White isn't the only receiver trying to fill the shoes of those that came before him. The wide receiver who wears No. 2 on his jersey played some his freshman year, hauling in 14 catches for 151 yards and two touchdowns as a reserve.

Now that four of the top pass-catchers from a season ago are gone, it's up to White and fellow veterans Kevin Norwood, Kenny Bell and Christion Jones to keep producing. Freshmen Amari Cooper, Cyrus Jones and Marvin Shinn could play a role as well.

When Alabama released its depth chart on Tuesday it looked like this:
All seven receivers have combined for four career starts, 45 catches and four touchdowns. But what they lack in experience, they make up for in talent.

"It's more spread out than it's ever been here," quarterback AJ McCarron said. "We have a really good group of receivers. All the guys can run. All the guys can make plays. I'm definitely excited to get out there and see what we've got Sept. 1."
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The time for talk is over. Game week at the University of Alabama has arrived after more than six months of waiting, speculating and pontificating to the point of exhaustion. There wasn't enough air in the room for it to last any longer.

Conjecture and analysis will finally begin to give way to actual evidence and statistics. Practice and scrimmages will surrender to the real thing.

Six days is all that separates the Crimson Tide from the first bout of their title defense. The No. 8 Michigan Wolverines await in Arlington, Texas, for what could be the most hyped season opener Alabama has been a part of since before most college-age students were born.

But the hype, to this point, has been absent in the coaching rhetoric. Nick Saban has mentioned the game in passing. Brady Hoke, too. It's hard to talk match-ups when you don't know who half your starters are on defense, as is the case with Alabama, or which players will return from suspension, as is the case with Michigan.

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Practice report: Aug. 24 

August, 24, 2012
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The University of Alabama hit the practice fields for the next to last preseason practice before game week begins on Monday.

The Crimson Tide practiced under fair conditions: 90 degrees and clear skies.

Here are some notes and observations from the media viewing period of practice:

  • For the fourth consecutive day Amari Cooper wore a black no-contact jersey and stayed on the stationary bike during practice. Nick Saban said the true freshman will return to practice on Monday.
  • Eddie Lacy went full-go for the second straight day of practice. The junior running back sprained his knee and ankle during Saturday's scrimmage and spent a few days not participating in drills.

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