HOOVER — Alabama football coach Nick Saban might not have been an entertainer in the way Ole Miss coach Lane Kiffin completed his news conference the previous day at SEC Media Days, but Saban was perhaps more informative. Especially when it comes to the 2021 season.
Here are five things we learned about the Crimson Tide in the first session of SEC Media Days on Wednesday:
1. Tennessee transfer Henry To'o To'o a 'quarterback type guy on defense'
The spot next to third-year starter Christian Harris is open, and based on what Saban said Wednesday, Henry To'o To'o is a frontrunner for that spot. Saban said To'o To'o was one of the best defensive players in the conference at Tennessee and thought he was an outstanding player in high school. Saban also described him as intelligent, instinctive and a leader.
"You always want to have a great signal-caller or quarterback type guy on defense," Saban said. "Regardless of what kind of player they are, those things really enhance the chances of all the other players on defense playing with confidence because they're confident in the call that they're getting, the adjustment that they're making, and I think that's something that Henry can really add to us as well as being a very productive player."
That doesn't sound like the description of a guy who's going to be on the sideline. It sounds more like a player who could be keeping the defense organized this fall.
2. Sophomore Javion Cohen likely starter at left guard
As Alabama has to replace a few offensive linemen who departed for the NFL, the new offensive line to start the season is starting to take shape.
Saban said Javion Cohen will likely be a starter, specifically at left guard, if he continues to do his job well.
"He's done really well in school," Saban said. "'He's been a good person. He's worked hard, so we're very pleased."
3. Alabama football at about 90 percent vaccinated
On Monday, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said that about six of the 14 teams have reached the desired 80 percent threshold for vaccinated individuals. Alabama, Saban announced, is one of those teams.
"These are choices and decisions that every player has to make," Saban said. "Our approach has been, I think we've had three medical doctors sort of give lectures to our team about the pros and cons of the whole COVID circumstance, the vaccine circumstance, so that they can make intelligent decisions about what they do."
4. Alabama decreased soft tissue injuries by 50 percent in 2020
Saban also said Alabama increased explosive movement during the season by 5 percent. The program had changes in the strength and conditioning staff, adding David Ballou and Dr. Matt Rhea.
"David and Dr. Rhea have done a phenomenal job really, and this has, I think helped our program tremendously," Saban said.
They eliminated all testing. They don't run 16 110s anymore or 10 40s with 15 seconds of rest in between.
"We don't need to test, because the players are getting immediate feedback every day," Saban said. "So it's a much more positive approach. The players have really bought into it from a flexibility standpoint and a strength and conditioning standpoint, and the technology has been very instrumental in helping the players see their progress and buy into this process."
5. John Metchie III hasn't seen family in Canada for about 2 years
Metchie, a junior receiver from Brampton, Canada, said it's been tough with him not being able to go home with ease during the pandemic. His family also hasn't been able to easily visit or come to games.
"I think it's important to keep in mind it's something that everybody's dealing with," Metchie said. "Everybody has something to deal with in the COVID situation. So it's kind of just remaining focused and — just remaining focused."