LB MACK WILSON GROWING ROLE/RELATIONSHIP WITH SABAN
Saban has said “We need Mack to really be the guy on defense this year for us when it comes to leadership and how he affects other people.” Wilson told me that the role of vocal leader is uncomfortable for him and that even his parents and Godfather have always said he’s not a vocal guy because he likes to lead by example. But something that has helped Wilson’s growth is his relationship with Nick Saban. Mack said that Saban often calls him in for one on one meetings out of the blue. Mack says their last meeting was right before fall camp ended. Saban’s message was simple: “it’s time for the defense to click”. Mack said he and Coach have a very honest and open relationship. He told coach that he was frustrated during camp with trying to get everyone on the same page, with the lack of experience, and Mack says getting ready for the season has been very challenging for the defense. But Wilson says his talks with Coach have really helped him talk through his concerns and become a better leader.
MACK WILSON LEARNING FROM RAY LEWIS AND ED REED
During the summer Wilson was invited to be a camp counselor at the Ray Lewis Academy at IMG. Mack says that he learned so much from the experience. Wilson says he watched film with Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. Wilson specifically remembers watching film of the Ravens playing the Panthers. He said you could see how Ed talked to the secondary and Ray communicated with the front line. He said it was fascinating to watch them run the whole defense on film and talk through what they were seeing while sitting right next to them in the room. Ed and Ray told Wilson that they used to watch film every night together when they first teamed up. Wilson says now he makes sure that all the linebackers watch film together at least 3x a week. And Ed Reed told me that Mack Wilson is clearly a young man that wants to learn and is very coachable. “He listens and applies that’s why he shows up on film”.
TREVON DIGGS FINDING A ROLE
He has played offense, defense and special teams. Last season he only had 6 total tackles and 3 pass break ups in 13 games. But coming into Game 1. Saban has said that Diggs has been one of his most consistent defenders. Trevon told me that he has spent a lot of time watching film of older guys like Minkah Fitzpatrick and Cyrus Jones. He is taking fundamental cues from the former players as small as their stance. He also stays in constant touch with his brother Stefon. The older Diggs’ message is simple “stay focused on what you can control and watch a lot of film”.
PUMA PASS UNIQUE THROWING MOTION
Pass has been working with a QB coach named Quincy Avery since he was a junior in high school. Over the summer he went and worked with Avery in LA. He was joined by QBs from across the country including Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins, and Oklahoma State’s Drew Brown. Avery said whenever Puma goes to get vertical or throw hard you will see the incredible flexibility in his arm. It almost looks like he is going to pull his arm out of the socket. He says it is an asset for generating force, the ball jumps out of his handbut it also means sometimes he can try to generate all of his force through his arm instead of doing it from the ground up.
PUMA PASS IMPROVEMENT
Puma told me that his biggest focus during the offseason was consistency with his footwork. He says he’s completely comfortable in Bobby Petrino’s system. But he wants to be more consistent with the rhythm and cadence of his drops and throws. He also focused on never letting his feet get to wide or narrow. QB Coach Quincy Avery said he showed Pass film of Deshaun Watson because he wanted him to watch how he syncs his feet with the routes.
JAYLEN SMITH EMERGENCY APPENDECTOMY
Jaylen had a health scare to start fall camp. It all started on August 1st which is his Birthday. He went out to dinner at a steakhouse and he recalls trying to eat a $70 steak and celebrate but he just felt stomach pain that he had never felt before. He went to the training room the next day and after further evaluation he found out he needed emergency surgery on the same day that camp officially started to take his appendix out. Smith said that he could not lift or do anything for a week. Then he slowly worked his way back on to the treadmill and then on the elliptical. Two weeks after surgery he was back on the field running routes. Smith lost about 10lbs in 2-3 days because he just couldn’t eat. Jaylen says he feels good now but that he has not been tackled yet, just grabbed around the waist near his stiches.