5 Head-Turning Things From A-Day That Should Have Alabama Fans Really Optimistic

Just a Minute: After looking at the film, Alabama's A-Day went even better than most people realized
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — No starting running back or wide receiver. One of the three scholarship quarterbacks didn't play either. The offensive line was also shorthanded and remains unsettled. 

Defensively, there were just as many players being held out, resulting in just as many question. Special teams didn't even have its regular coach, and it took so long to relay calls and get everyone lined up that Nick Saban may have yelled "Let's go!" for each fan who was in attendance in half-filled Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday. 

Despite all that, Alabama had a really good A-Day. 

Just having the annual scrimmage was a positive step for the reigning national champions after spring football was completely canceled last year. But the game is more about the young, up-and-coming players on the Crimson Tide roster, and in that respect A-Day was a huge success. 

Think about it for a moment. How many times did you see a senior stand out in some way?

Consequently, reporters and fans alike, who were getting their first glimpse at the team, learned a lot about the 2021 Crimson Tide. 

Here are five things that should have turned everyone's head. 

Just to clarify, and get a couple of things out of the way, we're not talking about the new elephant statue or Saban's salmon-colored jacket, which Miss Terry has had him wear before. 

We're also bypassing things like both wide receiver Treashon Holden and defensive back DeMarcco Hellams looking better every time we see them. 

The first goal of A-Day is to get through it with as many physical setbacks as possible, and Alabama appeared to do so despite having a scary moment or two. 

For example, with roughly five minutes remaining in the second quarter, junior left tackle Evan Neal had the ball carrier and tackler land on the back of his leg. He got up limping, but stayed in the game. 

Meanwhile, freshman JC Latham had something similar happen on the first snap of the second half, albeit not as bad. 

1] The new guys are pretty good: Offense 

Two words: Agiye Hall. 

Not to get ahead of ourselves, but the only thing that can stop him from having a prolific collegiate career is probably Agiye Hall.

Saban doesn't like to heap a lot of praise on early enrollees, especially since they haven't even played in a real game yet, but even he said Hall was already one of the most explosive players on this team.

The really great thing is that by setting such a high bar, the other new receivers will likely work only that much harder.  

2] The new guys are pretty good: Defense 

How many of you were wondering early in the game, "Hey, who's 32?" and then proceeded to notice Deontae Lawson time and time again. While filling in for Christian Harris he seemed to be everywhere, making hits, dropping back into coverage and even had a fumble recovery. 

Lawson was credited with four tackles, including one for a loss, and broke up two passes. 

Remember, Alabama added five prospects in its latest recruiting class who were considered consensus five-star talents who can't miss. Lawson wasn't one of them. 

The other new addition stood out was cornerback Ga'Quincy McKinstry. Kool-Aid may have gotten yelled at by Saban for walking on to the field and not running (lack of urgency), but even former Ohio State wide receiver Joey Galloway was raving about his potential and how the newcomer passed the eye test. 

Did you notice how tight McKinstry was playing the receivers at the line of scrimmage and had no trouble breaking off the line with them? Yeah, he'll be playing this fall. 

3] Alabama has a lot of speed

It's not just with the playmakers. 

Sophomore linebacker Chris Braswell got a lot of attention, and deservingly so, after registering three sacks and a forced fumble.

But just as telling was a play during the first half, when one of the reserve quarterbacks felt the pressure and decided to throw the ball away. However, before he could do so, sophomore Demouy Kennedy burst through and got him for the impressive sack.

Not only should fans keep an eye on Kennedy, who led the White team with seven tackles, but Alabama seemed to have a player like that with every position group.

Once these players get some experience, Alabama's depth will be unbelievably good. 

4] Bryce Young has grown as a quarterback

This one seems kind of obvious, but that doesn't mean the sophomore shouldn't be mentioned. The comparisons of a right-handed version of Tua Tagovailoa have only begun, and should only be taken as a compliment. 

When he starts hitting some of these receivers in stride ... 

5] The tight ends  

If there's one position Alabama hasn't been known for under Saban it's the tight ends. Even though O.J. Howard was a first-round draft pick, it's the only spot where Saban hasn't had a first-team All-American with the Crimson Tide. 

This group could change that perception. 

We already knew that Jahleel Billingsley was a bonafide threat in the passing game, but now converted linebacker Cameron Latu is as well. That's going to create a lot of problems for defense, because at any given point offensive coordinator can shift one or both wide and create mismatches. 

They combined for five receptions for 114 yards.  

On the other side, the tandem of Major Tennison and early-enrollee Robbie Ouzts also had a pair of catches. Maybe it was just us, but Ouzts looked bigger than his 6-4, 260-pound listing.    

Christopher Walsh's Just a Minute appears every week in BamaCentral+