December 7, 2011

Future Tide LBs excited to play together

MONTGOMERY | There they were, side by side, this time on the football field. The three University of Alabama commitments who have talked with one another for what seems like an eternity about what it might be like to play together, finally got the chance to experience it Tuesday in Montgomery.

Ryan Anderson and Tyler Hayes were at inside linebacker for the Alabama All Stars, Reggie Ragland perched on the outside. Of the four linebackers lined up in the 3-4 defensive front, three were Crimson Tide commits.

When Ragland picked off five-star quarterback Jameis Winston in the first hour of practice on Tuesday, it was Anderson and Hayes there first to congratulate him.

The trio said they've quickly developed a chemistry with one another, due in large part to staying in communication throughout the recruitment process.

"I love those guys," Anderson said. "We've been talking for a long time, so it's good to get in this game and play.

"With us three, we motivate each other. We talk to each other a lot. In the future it will help us be better, pushing each other in competition."

Ragland said he, Anderson and Hayes all blend well together because of their different styles. When he has two four-star recruits alongside, the Bob Jones High School star said the pressure melts away.

"It's good because we can go ahead and get chemistry with each other and know each others weaknesses and strengths," Ragland said. "It takes a lot off my shoulders, not trying to make all the plays. I know if I can't get to it, Tyler or Ryan will."

Hayes echoed his teammates' assessment, saying he was looking forward to spending the week with his future running mates.

Asked whether he thought the group was capable of starting together at Bryant-Denny Stadium in the future, Hayes hedged his bets, saying it, "depends on how hard we work together."

Anderson, though, had no doubt.

"That's bound to happen," he said with a smile.

Thomasville head coach Jack Hankins, who is in charge of the linebackers this week, joked about having the easiest job on the coaching staff.

"They play fast," Hankins said of Anderson, Hayes and Ragland. "They have a full-speed motor. I'm happy to have them on my team. … They're all smart. They're good leaders and get after it."

Hankins, who helped develop Hayes at Thomasville, offered an assessment of the three future Alabama linebackers.

"Ryan is probably the biggest of the three and is able to play down (with a hand on the ground)," he said. "Reggie is just your prototypical linebacker. He's a great run-stuffer. We're already ahead of the game with those guys. Tyler is not as big as those two, but he gives you a lot more speed and agility on the weak side. We've got him doing a lot of different things, running to the ball.

"I think they compliment each other really well."

The Alabama squad conjured up fond memories of an All-Star cast four years ago.

"It's an outstanding group," Hankins said. "I was thinking about our 2007 group we coached. We had Courtney Upshaw and Robert Lester and Dre Kirkpatrick. We had Julio Jones. This group is probably the most talented I've seen in this game in a long time.

"Defensively, I don't think I've ever seen a group as talented as they are."
Reach Alex Scarborough at [email protected] or 205-722-1093. Follow him on Twitter at @Alex_TuscNews.

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