Defensive lineman DJ Dale has only been campus for a few months, but the early enrollee has already made his presence known.
After Alabama’s second spring scrimmage last Saturday in Bryant-Denny Stadium, UA coach Nick Saban mentioned the former 4-star from Pinson earned playing time with the first-team line.
“DJ is playing some with the ones at nose,” Saban said.
It was a never a question of whether Dale would have the size – he’s listed at 6-foot-3, 314 pounds – or ability to contribute early. It was a matter of whether he would be able to learn the position and play with confidence in competitive scenarios quick enough.
Well, Dale has apparently impressed Saban with both his athleticism and readiness.
“He’s got good initial quickness, good power, strikes,” Saban said. “(He) seems to be pretty conscientious, shows a little maturity about being able to go out there and do his job.”
Dale is one of eight defensive linemen the Crimson Tide signed in the 2019 class. He’s one of four already on campus and going through spring practice, which concludes Saturday with Alabama’s A-Day game in Bryant-Denny Stadium at 1 p.m. (ESPN2). He may have made the greatest strides out of the four, but Saban sees potential in each of the early enrollees.
The problem for these other players, though, has been translating that ability into production on the field.
“I think when they get in a competitive situation, they completely just dumb down,” Saban said. “They can’t focus. They’re supposed to slant, they don’t slant. So, it’s really — you can see the talent, you can see the ability, but they’ve got to develop confidence when they hear a call that this is what I do and trust in that and believe in that. And right now in practice, it’s starting to happen. But the next step is we’ve got to get it in a competition situation.”