Robinson swells with SEC pride
The 'Bama corner is enjoying rival Florida's title while here for the Hula Bowl
Alabama cornerback Ramzee Robinson is rarely at a loss for words, especially after fellow SEC member Florida trounced Ohio State in Monday's BCS national title game.
"I'm a ride-or-die SEC guy," Robinson said. "I knew Florida was going to win, and it gives us something more to talk about while we're out here."
Robinson did more than his share of talking, both with his mouth and his play, during yesterday's first practice for Sunday's 61st Cornerstone Bancard Hula Bowl at Aloha Stadium.
CORNERSTONE BANCARD HULA BOWL
When: Sunday, 3:35 p.m.
Where: Aloha Stadium
Tickets: Call (800) 971-1232
Three Gators and four of the five Buckeyes scheduled to play in the Hula Bowl were absent from yesterday's practice as their plane from Phoenix was delayed, but there was still plenty of trash-talking going on about the game, especially from Robinson, who didn't even watch it because he was busy flying to Hawaii.
"I didn't get a chance to see the pregame or the postgame," Robinson said. "I didn't even get to smell the game. I got all these text messages asking did I see this, did I see that, and I still don't know what they're talking about."
Many scouts attending the practice were busy talking about Robinson as he took advantage of the unusual practice format to showcase his skills as one of the premier cornerbacks in the country.
"I was busy just looking at the quarterbacks, but it was impossible not to notice the plays he was making," said one scout. "He looked real sharp."
It was a little crowded on the field as both the Kai and Aina teams practiced together, which is different from previous Hula Bowls, but nothing new to Kai coach Pat Hill.
"It was the same thing when I did the (East-West Shrine) game, you run out of space," Hill said. "(Today) we'll have our own guys practice during the first half, and then we'll
compete against each other for the second half at full speed."
Robinson racked up 46 tackles and had two interceptions for an Alabama team that finished a disappointing 6-7 for the season, and just 2-6 in the SEC. Coach Mike Shula was fired at the end of the regular season and was recently replaced by former Miami Dolphins head coach Nick Saban, who won a national title at LSU in 2004.
"Anytime you see your coach go, it's tough," Robinson said.
Alabama's schedule was one of the toughest in the country this season, with road games against Florida, LSU and Tennessee, as well as home games against Auburn and Hawaii. Robinson came away from the Hawaii game impressed with UH's passing attack, and said playing against the Warriors was similar to playing against the Gators.
"Both offenses have a lot of guys going in and out on you and they do a good job of spreading the ball around," he said. "The thing about the SEC, though, is that you can't just expect one certain thing out of each team. Everybody can do everything."
Alama-Francis ready for double duty:
Defensive end Ikaika Alama-Francis was on the field practicing for Sunday's Hula Bowl, but is still committed to playing in the East-West Shrine Game next week in Houston as well.
"It's going to be tough, but the plan is just to be ready and have fun," he said.
Alama-Francis has been ranked in the top 25 of ESPN analyst Mel Kiper's "Big Board," where Kiper ranks the top prospects for the upcoming NFL Draft, and was busy after practice talking to many NFL scouts.
"It's very exciting," Alama-Francis said. "Coming from a basketball team and talking to all these (scouts), I never would have imagined it. It's different."
Gators arrive late:
Despite missing yesterday morning's practice, cornerback Reggie Lewis, offensive lineman Steve Rissler and defensive tackle Joe Cohen of the Florida Gators arrived yesterday afternoon in time for last night's gathering at Dave & Buster's, and had plenty to say about Monday's national championship.
"We watched ESPN and listened to everybody dog us prior to the game," Lewis said. "That was more than enough motivation for us because we knew we were a better team and we were going to win."
Lewis went as far as to say that they weren't the only SEC team that would have beaten Ohio State.
"LSU would have beat them, Auburn would have beat them, and Tennessee and Arkansas would have given them a run," Lewis said. "We are the best conference in the country."
The SEC finished 6-3 in its bowl games.