MOBILE — Alabama likes to advertise itself as home of some of college football’s most competitive practices.
When those practices come to an end, there’s one more place for some Alabama football players to compete before their NFL careers begin. They head to Mobile for the Senior Bowl.
“These are some of the best players from all across the country in the Senior Bowl,” Crimson Tide defensive lineman Isaiah Buggs said. “Everybody knows what’s expected, so everybody is giving it their all.”
Buggs is one of three Alabama players attending the Senior Bowl in Mobile this week. Redshirt senior center Ross Pierschbacher is also playing for the South team, though he and Buggs are matched up against one another in practice. Redshirt senior outside linebacker Christian Miller will arrive later in the week to participate in meetings with teams. He won’t participate in practice or the game as he continues to recover from a hamstring injury he suffered in the Orange Bowl against Oklahoma.
He said his goal during this week is “just finishing more plays, being better against the pass and the run.”
That would be a continuation on his college career at Alabama. He finished the 2018 season with 51 tackles and led the team with 9.5 sacks. His 13.5 tackles for loss were third on the team. He finished his junior season in 2017 with 51 tackles, four tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks.
Buggs checked in at 6-foot-2 5/8 and 295 pounds during measurements in the morning. That size means some NFL teams may be more likely to play him at defensive tackle rather than end. He lined up both inside and outside during the first practice session in the afternoon. Improving his versatility is another one of his goals this week.
“I played all over, even at Bama I played inside, outside,” he said. “It doesn’t matter. You can put me anywhere on the field and I’ll get it done.”
He said he’s spoken to “a couple teams” since arriving for practice.
Buggs isn’t projected as a first-round pick in most assessments, due in part to a strong class of defensive linemen. NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah listed seven defensive lineman or edge rushers among his top 10 prospects and 15 among his top 50 on Tuesday; Buggs wasn’t included. Some projections have him going on the draft’s second day, which includes the second and third rounds.
His goal now is to be ready wherever he lands.
“Nick Saban is a great coach,” Buggs said. “He’s all about the standard. At the NFL, it’s all about the standard and applying the standard. All these teams have said just playing under Nick Saban has prepared me for the next level.”
Reach Ben Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org or 205-722-0196.