Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Nick Saban fills 5 open positions in offseason

Every year, head coach Nick Saban is faced with the task of recruiting talent to replace what he loses to the NFL draft and graduations. The success of the program during the 2012 championship season left him with more than players to replace, though. Saban also had to fill five vacancies in his coaching staff.

Saban began the lengthy process of replacing that talent by hiring Greg Brown as the team’s new secondary coach.

Brown has spent more than three decades in various coaching positions. His last three years were spent as defensive coordinator for the Colorado Buffaloes, but he also boasts stints the University of Arizona, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the New Orleans Saints, the Atlanta Falcons, the San Francisco 49ers and the San Diego Chargers.

Brown’s work at Alabama is cut out for him – he will need to replace the likes of Dee Milliner and Robert Lester, who have been fixtures in the Alabama defense for years.

In a statement, Saban said Brown’s experience made him the ideal candidate to fill the job left by Jeremy Pruitt.

“I’m extremely happy to add a coach the caliber of Greg Brown to our staff,” Saban said. “Greg has a tremendous amount of college and NFL experience, and his knowledge in the secondary really made him the perfect fit for this position.”

Saban made an interesting hire in Billy Napier for wide receiver’s coach. Napier worked for the Tide during the 2011 national championship season as an offensive analyst and spent last year as the assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach at the Colorado State Rams.

Napier’s arrival resulted in almost immediate benefits for the team. They ranked 17th in the nation in red-zone scoring, and cut sacks by more than four per game and improved their running game by 65 yards a game during the last six games of the season.

Former Alabama offensive coordinator and current CSU head coach Jim McElwain said he thought Napier was an excellent hire for the Alabama football team, especially since he has spent time with the program before.

“Obviously, I think a lot of Billy, or otherwise I wouldn’t have hired him here,” McElwain said in a phone interview. “He’s got some great qualities that he’ll bring to the organization at Alabama.”

McElwain lauded Napier’s organizational skills, his ability to stay “current” with the trends of college football, and his talent for recruiting.

“I know [former wide receivers coach Mike Groh] did a heck of a job there, and that’ll be a tough seat to fill,” McElwain said. “And yet he’ll be able to make a seamless transition, which I think is very important.”

Offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland has been instrumental in the development and dominance of Alabama’s offensive linemen for years. His exit to the Philadelphia Eagles leaves a hole almost as big as the ones left by All-Americans Barrett Jones, Chance Warmack and D.J. Fluker.

On Feb. 20, Saban hired Florida International head coach Mario Cristobal to fill Stoutland’s considerably sized shoes.

Cristobal spent the last six years of his career at FIU, leading the Panthers to the 2010 Sun Belt Conference championship. Later that season, Cristobal helped the program win its first bowl victory over Toledo in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl. For his work, Cristobal was named the Sun Belt Coach of the Year.

Cristobal also has experience working directly with the offensive line and has spent time coaching the line at Rutgers and for the Miami Hurriances.

Kerry Stevenson will take over for Kevin Sherrer as the director of player development. Stevenson’s main responsibility will surround off-field activities for the players, including balancing academics, athletics, community outreach and assisting with personal development programs.

Stevenson spent the last 10 years as the head coach of Vigor High School in Prichard, Ala., where he worked directly with the players in their development. Stevenson will be reunited with one of the players he coached at Vigor – junior running back Jalston Fowler.

Alabama also hired Kevin Steele as the director of player personnel. Steele, who spent 2007-08 as part of Saban’s defensive staff at Alabama, will focus on directing the already well-oiled machine that is the Alabama recruiting process.

Steele worked at Florida State under head coach Bobby Bowden from 2003-06 and was named the National Recruiter of the Year in 2005. That season, the Seminoles signed the top class in the country.

Despite his success at other organizations, Steele said he is happy to be back with the Tide because of the type of program Saban is running.

“I’m glad to be back at Alabama, and I’m looking forward to a new challenge in terms of this role,” Steele said. “I’ve worked at some great schools through the years, and nobody does it better than coach Saban when it comes to running a program top to bottom.”


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