With Alabama losing leaders like Reggie Ragland, A’Shawn Robinson, and Ryan Kelly to the NFL this offseason, the need for players to emerge as leaders is certainly something coach Nick Saban is thinking about as the Crimson Tide continues fall camp.
“There’s a lot of questions that are going to get answered about this team in fall camp, and it starts with what is the identity of this team going to be, how are people going to assume roles, how are people going to face challenges,” Saban said. “There’s a lot of questions that have to be answered, and I think fall camp goes a long way in kind of helping you identify some of these issues.”
Part of the leadership equation could be filled in by whoever ends up as the starting quarterback this fall. Jake Coker earned the respect of his teammates when he became the starting quarterback, and Saban has talked about his successor has to win the team before he can win the job. However, other players will need to emerge as leaders if Alabama is going to have success.
One such player might be senior linebacker Ryan Anderson. Ragland was the unquestioned leader among the linebackers last season, and his departure leaves a spot that Anderson hopes to fill by becoming a better leader.
“It’s a little bit different, having to be a bit more outspoken than I was last year,” Anderson said. “I always felt like I was one of the guys who would be behind the scenes doing what I had to do and lead by example, but now it’s a lot different.”
Saban feels that he’s had some teams at Alabama that have had very strong leadership, and that the quality of character displayed by not only those leaders but the entire team helps determine how well it plays.
“We’ve had some teams here that had great strength of personality, character and leadership that has enhanced their chances of being successful because of the way they confronted their fears in terms of whether it was the competition, internal circumstances that we had to resolve,” Saban said. “How our team sort of responds to all those challenges…will go a long way to saying what the identity of this team will be and how successful this team will be because of that.”
Anderson feels that it’s important for the leaders to be able to help the younger players on the team.
“You’ve got to be a people person who notices all of the younger guys out here, and they’re going through the same things I went through when I was younger,” Anderson said. “We need somebody to relate to them.”
Saban is hoping for some of the younger players to step up as well. Sophomore defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick said that Saban is expecting him and fellow sophomore defensive back Marlon Humphrey to step up not only their on the field play, but their leadership qualities as well.
“Coach Saban told us both we need to step up as leaders because we’re two of the more experienced players in the secondary,” Fitzpatrick said.
It’s too early in fall camp to have solved any of the questions Saban has about his team. However, he does feel good about what he’s seen so far.
“How they manage the challenges, the adversity, how you face your fears are all things that can make you stronger, and that’s what we need to do to develop the kind of identity and personality on this team that’s going to be important for us having the kind of team that I think we’re capable of having,” Saban said. “I’m encouraged by how we’ve started, but success is always defined as consistency in performance.”
Source:: The Crimson White Sports