MOBILE -- If coach Al Pogue had his way, he would pack up all of the Alabama all-star defensive backs, ship them to Montgomery and give them another year of eligibility.
Safety Anthony Swain/Bryan Matthews photo
The Montgomery-Carver coach will have to make due, however, with coaching them this week in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic.
“It’s a great group,” Pogue said. “They make coaching a whole lot easier. You can tell they come from great programs, have been well coached and they’re very receptive to the things I’m trying to teach them. It’s an honor for me to work with them.”
Pogue actually played with Rose’s father, Charles Rose, in the first and only season of the Regional Football League leading the Mobile Admirals to the RFL championship in 1999.
“His dad was a great talent but I think Jonathan may be a little bit better than him,” Pogue said. “He’s a great corner, tall corner. He’ll be able to matchup with the big, physical receivers in the SEC. Auburn is getting a great guy in him.”
Pogue has also been impressed with Florence and how quickly he’s adjusted to moving back to defensive back after playing quarterback as a senior at Valley.
“I’m amazed,” he said. “He came back to the secondary and hasn’t lost a beat. He’s a field general back there. He tells the guys what they’re supposed to be doing. He helps out on the run well. He’s a big help to us in the secondary and he’s a great player too.”
Swain has also proven to be a standout and has been able to excel at safety despite having a frame that may be more suited to linebacker.
“He’s a great guy. He’s kind of high-energy like me,” Pogue said. “He gets to the ball well and comes out every day to work.”
SOLID AS A ROCK: Swain said he may officially visit Kentucky, where his Gadsden City teammate, running back Alonzo Harris, is leaning, but his commitment to Auburn is not in jeopardy.
“I’m solid with my commitment,” Swain said. “I’m just taking the trip to have fun.”
Swain said he’s enjoyed the week in Mobile with his fellow Auburn commitments.
“It’s giving us a time to bond before we get to school so we already know each other,” he said.
The teams have been practicing twice a day this week and Swain is anxious to strap on the pads for real Saturday.
“I think I’m having a pretty good week. It’s a great experience,” he said. “It looks like we’re going to have a pretty good team Saturday.”
A TREMENDOUS GROUP: The Alabama wide receivers have been a consistent big-play group this week. Coach Tripp Curry from Cherokee County has the honor of coaching the receivers and likes everything he’s seen.
“We’re just loaded at receiver,” Curry said. “I’ll tell you what, we’re just having a good time coaching them.”
“One of the plans is to throw the ball and let those guys go get it,” Curry said. “They’re going to have good defensive backs but to cover all our guys is really going to be tough.”
Curry praised each one of his receivers including Coates, who has proven to be a big-play threat all week.
“He’s unbelievable,” Curry said. “He’s got great speed and he goes and gets the ball. He’s a great athlete and catches the ball well.
LARGE ROLE FOR LITTLE BACK: Ameer Abdullah is generously listed as 5-foot-9 and 175 pounds on the Alabama roster but he’s expected to be a key part of Alabama’s offense and special teams.
Abdullah will run and catch passes out of the backfield and also return punts and kickoffs. Coach Fred Yancey hopes to get the ball in Abdullah’s hands has much as possible to take advantage of his speed and quickness in the open field.
“Goodness, mercy, I’m glad we taught him how to move so well,” Yancey joked. “He’s a great little athlete and he has God-given ability to make people miss. He’s really been a treat.”
THIS AND THAT: Florence missed Thursday’s morning practice after having his toe stepped on Wednesday. He’s expected back to practice either this afternoon or Friday and should play in Saturday’s game ..... Wilson Whorton from Briarwood Christian is handling the punting and placekicking for the Alabama all-stars. Whorton has an offer from Air Force but is hoping to walk-on at either Alabama or Auburn ..... Running back DaMarcus James from Demopolis has decommitted from Washington State and is hoping to earn an offer from a program closer to home ..... Yancey said he’s happy with his team’s work this week. “As far as everything these boys could have done to get ready, they’ve done it. I’m real appreciative about the attitude and hard work they’ve put out,” he said.