Alabama’s A-Day game is supposed to be the appetizer to hold off college football fans until September, but safety Deionte Thompson wants it to be the main course.
The redshirt junior is not lowering his expectations for the crowd surrounding the intrasquad game. He wants it to be like a regular-season contest. In fact, he wants to reset the bar in college football for spring games.
“For A-Day I want 100,000 (fans),” Thompson said. “I want the biggest spring game across college football.”
Ohio State claimed the largest spring game crowd last season with 80,134 people in attendance. Alabama came in behind only the Buckeyes and Nebraska Cornhuskers, claiming the third-largest crowd at 74,326.
Thompson is hoping for eye-popping numbers similar to the ones from 2007, 2010, and 2011. For Nick Saban’s first A-Day in 2007, an estimated 92,138 fans packed Bryant-Denny Stadium. A crowd of 91,312 was on hand in 2010 and 92,310 in 2011.
With a team coming off a national championship and a forecast calling for sunny, 75-degree weather, it’s certainly possible an increase in attendance could occur. A 15,000-fan increase, however? That would be impressive.
“A-Day means a lot, you know,” Thompson said. “It’s just something for the fans to come out, the fans that don’t get to come during the season for whatever reason. For them to come out, it means a lot to me, it means a lot to players around the organization, and it means a lot to the coaches and support staff. So, you just want as many to come out as they can, and we just want to put on a good show for them.”
Part of that show was expected to be sophomore quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, but his status is now in question after suffering a setback in his recovery from a hand injury. With or without the national championship game hero, the rest of the Crimson Tide is excited to show the progress they have made this spring.
“Overall, I feel like it’s a great opportunity to showcase what we’ve been working on,” tight end Hale Hentges said. “I kind of feel like it’s a springboard to the season, and I feel like it’s a good indicator of how well we’ve been playing.”
Hentges noted the offense has made significant progress this spring, gaining efficiency between each scrimmage. Part of that progress has been the improvement of the other quarterback competing for the starting job, Jalen Hurts, who coach Nick Saban praised for developing confidence in the passing game this spring.
“(Hurts) is making great reads, he’s making great throws, overall he’s making less poor decisions in the backfield,” Hentges said. “I really feel like this spring, we haven’t really had a whole lot of turnovers in practice. That’s something, especially going against our defense, we’ve had a little bit of in the past, and I think we’ve cut down on it quite a bit.”