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Watch Alabama linebackers put in major offseason speed work with Matt Rhea

Christian Harris working through drills at Alabama spring practice
Photo by Kent Gidley of Alabama Athletics

Nick Saban wanted the real deal for strength and conditioning after parting ways from Scott Cochran.

The University of Alabama hired David Ballou and Dr. Matt Rhea from Indiana University in March of 2020. Since the move, Crimson Tide fans have noticed a rise in the strength program.

Alabama did not suffer from soft tissue injuries, and the team would capture a national championship. The tandem now has a full offseason to work with players, and Rhea is making sure one positional unit is faster than ever. Each linebacker that comes to Alabama will be compared to someone from the 2016 team.

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Whether it was Reuben Foster, Shaun Dion Hamilton, Tim Williams, Ryan Anderson, Rashaan Evans, or Christian Miller, the speed and physicality of the 2016 linebackers allowed the Tide to dominate college football on defense.

This group guided the team to allowing 13 points per game. Thirty of Alabama’s 54 sacks, 55.6 percent, came from its linebackers that year.

Sixty-eight of its 118 tackles for loss, 57.6 percent, came from the position group too.

The speed of its linebackers allowed for the team to force 16 interceptions, recover eight fumbles, and record 11 touchdowns. Despite it not winning a national title, all the marquee players from the position were selected in the NFL Draft– including Foster and Evans that went in the first round.

Could this year’s bunch be faster than the 2016 team?

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Dr. Rhea is working on it. As the program’s Director of Performance Science, he has the linebackers working on offseason speed training.

The players are performing wind-resistant runs to increase the initial quickness, lateral movements, and overall explosiveness upon the snap of the ball. Names such as Christian Harris, William Anderson, Jaylen Moody, Drew Sanders, Christopher Allen, Chris Braswell, Henry To’ot’o’o, and Shane Lee were all featured in the video.

Rhea is also getting Demouy Kennedy, Jackson Bratton, Deontae Lawson, Ian Jackson, Quandarrius Robinson, King Mwikuta, Kendrick Blackshire and Dallas Turner prepared too.

YouTube video

Alabama fans want to see a strong defense return, and it starts with the linebackers.

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Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith.

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