Tag Archives: Kelly Johnson

Alabama 2013 Pro Day: Other Drills (video)

Former Alabama safety Robert Lester running in the three-cone drill at Alabama's Pro Day on Wednesday. (Copyright photo by Brett Hudson)

Former Alabama safety Robert Lester running in the three-cone drill at Alabama’s Pro Day on Wednesday. (Copyright photo by Brett Hudson)

We have attached more video from Wednesday’s Pro Day, this time of other drills done by the athletes.

For more video from Alabama’s Pro Day, click here to see some 40-yard dash attempts and click here to read about Jesse Williams and his Pro Day workout, a post that includes video.

You can read more about Fluker’s Pro Day by clicking here.

Alabama 2013 Pro Day: 40-Yard Dash, video

Former Alabama long snapper Carson Tinker running the 40-yard dash at Alabama's Pro Day on Wednesday. (Copyright photo by Brett Hudson)

Former Alabama long snapper Carson Tinker running the 40-yard dash at Alabama’s Pro Day on Wednesday. (Copyright photo by Brett Hudson)

All eyes turned to midfield for the 40-yard dash in Wednesday’s Pro Day hosted by Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide football team.

Below, you can see video of the following former Alabama football players running the 40-yard dash: tight end Kelly Johnson, tight end Michael Williams, defensive tackle Jesse Williams, linebacker Nico Johnson, safety Robert Lester and long snapper Carson Tinker.

Here is a partial list of the results: M. Williams 5.4, J. Williams 4.9, Nico Johnson, 5.0, Lester 4.65.

For more on the players seen in the above video, click here to read more on Nico Johnson’s disappointing Pro Day and click here to read more on Tinker and his fellow specialist, Jeremy Shelley, in Wednesday’s action.

Also, click here to read about Jesse Williams’ Pro Day (with video) and for another video post, click here.

Countdown to Spring Football: Tight Ends/H-Backs Breakdown

Michael Williams capped off his career in the crimson and white by catching a touchdown in the Senior Bowl. (AP photo)

Michael Williams capped off his career in the crimson and white by catching a touchdown in the Senior Bowl. (AP photo)

Daily Bama Blog correspondent Brett Hudson, like he did for the BCS National Championship Game against Notre Dame, will count you down to the beginning of spring practice with another series. Each day, Brett will break down a different position group going into spring practice until the beginning of practice on March 16. Here is the schedule.
Today: Quarterbacks (click here to read it)
Tomorrow: Running backs (click here to read it)
Saturday: Wide receivers (click here to read it)
Sunday: Tight ends/H-Backs
Monday: Offensive Line
Tuesday: Defensive Line
Wednesday: Linebackers/Pro Day
March 14: Cornerbacks
March 15: Safeties
March 16: Opening day of spring practice

Since the beginning of the Jim McElwain era in Tuscaloosa, the tight end and the H-Back have been staples of the Crimson Tide offense. Brad Smelley had more receiving yards than all but Marquise Maze on the 2011 national championship team.

Alabama has to find another threat at the position after losing both Michael Williams and Kelly Johnson after the 2012 BCS National Championship Game. Williams caught 24 passes, fourth on the team, for 183 yards and four touchdowns while Johnson added five catches for 39 yards.

However, Alabama will have two juniors and a redshirt sophomore battling for the two spots in spring training. Brian Vogler played in all 14 games, mostly using his 6-foot-7, 258 lbs frame to run block, but did catch two passes for 21 yards.

Harrison Jones, the younger brother of former offensive lineman Barrett and older brother of upcoming freshman linebacker Walker, played in 10 games as a sophomore but did not catch a pass. Neither did Malcolm Faciane, the redshirt sophomore in the group, who played in seven games this season.

The Tide has one freshman already on campus at this position, former Autauga Academy standout O.J. Howard. Howard (freshman year highlights), 6-foot-6, 235 pounds, said he would not mind playing both tight end and H-Back.

Breakdown: Two juniors (Jones and Vogler), one redshirt sophomore (Faciane) and one true freshman (Howard), plus walk-ons.

Prediction: The frames on both Vogler and Howard make them appealing options, but Jones has the family smarts that make him a viable option with a year in the new system under his belt. It is tough to go wrong with any option, so this spring could see the tight end/H-Back battles be the most hotly-contested on the offensive side of the ball.

In the end, Howard will certainly get his fair share of chances, and seeing him in a rotation with Vogler and Jones would not be surprising.

Four Tide players appear in Raycom All-Star Game

Alabama place-kicker Jeremy Shelley made three extra points as the Stripes beat the Stars 31-3 in the Raycom All-Star Classic in Montgomery. LSU’s Drew Alleman kicked the remaining extra point and the field goal.

Defensive lineman Quinton Dial made three tackles, and tight end Kelly Johnson caught a pass for 17 yards.

Alabama long-snapper Carson Tinker also appeared in the game. Crimson Tide defensive end Damion Square was slated to appear in the contest but didn’t because of injury.

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Opinion: Alabama’s ‘Rudy’ appreciates his chance to wear crimson jersey

Alabama walk-on Levi Cook will finish his college career Monday in the BCS National Championship Game. (Daily photo by Gary Cosby Jr. of The Decatur Daily)

Alabama walk-on Levi Cook will finish his college career Monday in the BCS National Championship Game. (Daily photo by Gary Cosby Jr. of The Decatur Daily)

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Notre Dame has “Rudy,” but Alabama has Levi Cook, a well-liked walk-on whose story isn’t nearly as well-known.

If you don’t know about “Rudy,” we’ll give you the mini-recap: It’s a popular 1993 movie inspired by former Notre Dame walk-on Rudy Ruettiger. In the movie, Ruettiger’s teammates plead for the coach to put him in a game, and when he gets a chance for one play against Georgia Tech, he sacks the quarterback. The team carries him off the field.

Now, back to Cook. He hasn’t gotten to do anything as dramatic as Rudy, but the 2009 Decatur High graduate got in one play this season for the first time in his college career, and a teammate’s loyalty and friendship helped put him on the field.

Cook is a senior defensive back who stands 5-foot-9½ and 190 pounds. He worked as part of the Tide’s scout team since the spring of 2010, and after three years of helping others get ready to play, his moment finally came when Alabama beat Western Carolina 49-0 in this season’s next-to-last home game.

The Crimson Tide had worked on an all-walk-on kickoff team for use late in that game, which would’ve allowed Cook and several others to make their Alabama debuts. However, after a touchdown midway through the third quarter, the Crimson Tide didn’t score again, which meant no walk-on kickoff team.

“I was on the sideline talking about not getting in the game, and Kelly Johnson said, ‘You can take my spot on punt return,’ ” Cook said.

Johnson is a senior as well and he had walked on at Alabama, too. He worked his way up to special teams and played in nine games last year. This season, he earned the first-team spot at H-back. He has a scholarship now and plays regularly, but hasn’t forgotten the plight of the walk-on, especially Cook.

Johnson said he and Cook became friends when they both played on the scout team. The friendship developed, and Johnson said Cook gave him his first Bible, which he said he values.

“As a former walk-on, I know how hard those guys work and how important it is to get into the game,” Johnson said. “It was something I wanted to do for my buddy.”

Before Cook could take the field, wearing his crimson jersey with No. 14 on it, he and Johnson had to persuade Tide special teams coach Bobby Williams.

“I think we trapped him into it,” Johnson said. “But he agreed. He was happy for him to play.”

When Cook ran onto the Bryant-Denny Stadium turf, it dawned on him that he hadn’t practiced as part of the punt-return team and wasn’t sure what to do.

“I looked at the guy next to me and asked, ‘Can I go block it?’ He said, ‘No, just hold up your guy some.’ I didn’t really do that. I just ran to the ball,” Cook said. “I didn’t do my responsibility.”

As it turned out, the Western Carolina kicker shanked his punt.

“As I get older and a lot more time passes, I’m going to tell people I blocked it,” Cook said with a smile.

Cook is set to graduate in May with a degree in general business. That means Monday’s BCS National Championship Game will mark his final time to wear the Alabama jersey. Even though he got on the field for only one play, rather than 1,000, he said he appreciates his time at Alabama.

“I wouldn’t trade it for the world,” Cook said. “There’s no price you can put on the experience. … In high school, I was a starter, and now it’s the flip side by doing scout team. It can be humbling in a good way.”

Playing at Alabama in the first place happened for Cook, who plans to enlist in the Navy after he graduates, because of the help of another teammate, quarterback AJ McCarron.

As a freshman, Cook met McCarron when they played pick-up basketball together. Cook mentioned he had played football and liked it, and McCarron told him he should walk on the team.

“I like the atmosphere of football,” Cook said. “I like being around a bunch of guys going for the same goal. … Even when I’m not at Alabama anymore, I’ll be around football, even Little League or high school.”

Cook will leave Alabama having spent three years on the football team and actually appearing in a game. On Monday, he has a chance to be part of his second national championship squad. How many people in the world can all say that?

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Kelly Johnson — Tide’s very own ‘Rudy’

Kelly Johnson (31) catches a pass in practice. (Photo courtesy of the University of Alabama)

TUSCALOOSA — Every year since 2008, Alabama coach Nick Saban has brought in recruiting classes that Internet services have ranked in the top five nationally. But apparently, sometimes someone slips through who outplays the big-time prospects.

This year, it’s Kelly Johnson, a senior who walked on at Alabama but is now the team’s starting H-back. The position is a hybrid of tight end, fullback and wide receiver, and when the Crimson Tide needs a bigger presence on the field Saturday against Michigan, you’ll see Johnson, who wears No. 31 and is 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds.

And it’s hard to find anybody on the Alabama team who doesn’t act thrilled for him.

“He’s a kid who works really hard and he’s a great guy,” Alabama senior Barrett Jones said. “He gives it up for his teammates. I think we all are very happy for him because we’ve seen the way he’s worked over the last few years. Not many guys who are walk-ons make it to that level.”

For now, he’s kind of like Alabama’s very own “Rudy,” who walked on at Notre Dame and was the subject of a popular movie by the same name. It’s the favorite movie of Johnson’s father, by the way.

“You never expect it, but you dream about getting this opportunity every day, especially when you’re a child watching football all your life,” Johnson said.

Maybe a better comparison for Johnson isn’t Rudy but instead former Alabama safety Rashad Johnson, who walked on the Tide and is now with the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals.

Rashad Johnson developed a reputation as a guy who isn’t afraid of contact and mixing it up, and that’s how Saban describes Kelly Johnson. It’s that style that apparently has earned him a shot to play.

“Kelly Johnson has done a really good job,” Saban said. “He’s a tough guy, a physical guy.”

Johnson’s teammates added that he’s strong but fast. They also say he usually wins the post-practice sprints.

Johnson played quarterback and safety at Providence Day School in Charlotte, N.C., and he said he didn’t receive any scholarship offers anywhere. He walked on at Alabama as a safety and a long snapper on kicks. He picked Alabama because when he watched college football with his father, they always admired Saban and the job he did.

Last year, Johnson asked Tide assistant coach Bobby Williams if he could give tight end a try. He said he figured there might be an opportunity to play. Williams let him make the move. That also helped Johnson work his way onto the kickoff team, where his physical play made him a valuable member of the group. He finished with five tackles.

Now, he is being asked to follow in the footsteps of former H-back Brad Smelley, who is now a rookie with the Cleveland Browns. Smelley ranked second on the team last year with 34 catches.

Since Saban released a depth chart Tuesday, which showed Johnson was No. 1 at H-back, “my phone’s been ringing off the hook,” he said.

Vinnie Sunseri came across Johnson back in Charlotte. Sunseri’s dad, Sal Sunseri, was an assistant coach with the NFL’s Charlotte Panthers, and Johnson was a middle school football teammate of Tino Sunseri, Vinnie’s older brother.

As a child, Vinnie Sunseri idolized the older Johnson, never imagining that some day they would play on the same Alabama football team. The moment might’ve hit Sunseri full-on at a recent practice when Sunseri lined up at safety with the first-team defense, and across the line, with the first-team offense, was Johnson at H-back.

“I’ve known Kelly since he was in seventh grade,” Sunseri said. “I actually watched him when he was growing up and being able to dunk a ball in like seventh grade. He was a freak athlete. I was like, ‘Wow, I want to be like Kelly.’

“I got here and he was a walk on. He’s busted his butt. He definitely deserves everything he gets. He’s a great guy. I’m so happy for him. My family is happy for him.”

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Alabama’s No. 1 H-back at work

Alabama went inside for practice today because of strong winds and possible rain.

Nick Saban allowed us to watch about seven or eight minutes of the workout. On Thursday and Friday, practice is closed, even to us. Today, I concentrated my attention on the tight ends and H-backs, who work under Tide assistant coach Bobby Williams. He’s got a pretty good arm for a 53-year-old.

The one particular H-back I wanted to watch was senior Kelly Johnson, a 6-foot-3, 230-pound walk-on. He is listed at No. 1 on the depth chart Saban released Tuesday.

Johnson was a high school quarterback but walked on at Alabama as a linebacker and backup long-snapper. He got to play last year on the kickoff coverage team and made five tackles. This past spring, he was switched to H-back and tight end and has made a nice transition.

H-back is an important position at Alabama. Brad Smelley, now with the Cleveland Browns, played that spot with the Crimson Tide last year and ranked second on the team with 34 catches. He also caught four touchdown passes, which led the Tide. Smelley, by the way, was a high school quarterback, too.

I’ve included a quick video of Johnson catching a pass. As he ran the route, I thought he was headed right over me, but in fact, he really didn’t come close. Below that, I’m putting a short drill in which the H-backs and tight ends caught passes.

By the way, can you tell which player I’m writing about for tomorrow’s print editions?