Tide’s Reamer finally getting shot on defense

Published 9:10 pm Wednesday, August 20, 2008

TUSCALOOSA – When the season starts, Alabama linebacker Cory Reamer will find himself in an unfamiliar position: On the field, with the defense.

Other than that, the converted safety isn’t too concerned about whether he’s lining up inside or outside, focusing on the tight end or the running back.

Reamer will likely be a starter for the 24th-ranked Crimson Tide’s opener against No. 9 Clemson Aug. 30 in Atlanta after barely seeing action at safety the past two seasons.

“I’m just looking forward to getting a chance to play at any position,” he said. “It doesn’t really matter to me. Wherever I can help out.

“I’m excited about it. You always want to be a starter. That’s what you work for in the offseason. Since the end of last season, that’s what everybody’s been working for is to be a starter this year. I’m just glad I have the opportunity.”

The opportunity comes with the Tide trying to overcome a lack of experienced depth in the linebacking corps. The 6-foot-4, 235-pounder has gained about 40 pounds since arriving from Hoover High School.

He has a total of six tackles the past three years. Reamer played in the first five games as a freshman before tearing the ACL in his left knee, receiving a medical redshirt. Then he missed the final 11 games in 2006 and had to have the knee scoped because it didn’t heal properly.

He played in every game on special teams last season.

“He’s been through a lot,” said quarterback John Parker Wilson, a high school teammate. “He’s been injured, he’s played 14 different positions on defense, bouncing around, asking him to do a lot. He shakes his head and goes about his business and works his butt off.

“He’s doing everything he needs to do to help the defense. I’m proud of him for sticking with it. With all the challenges that he’s been through, it’s nice to see.”

Reamer was a do-everything player in high school, too. He blocked two punts, returned one for a touchdown and set up another score with a long interception return to earn MVP honors in the Class 6A state championship game as a senior.

He has recently moved from inside linebacker to outside linebacker, where he played during last weekend’s scrimmage.

“I think we’ve got to play our best 11 players,” coach Nick Saban said. “If he has to double up somewhere inside then that’s what he has to do. He did a nice job in the scrimmage Saturday and I think it gave us a chance to get the best 11 players on the field.”

Reamer said he feels the move to linebacker was the best way to get playing time. He’s just happy to be both on the field and on defense.

“I’ve had a year of actually playing football again,” Reamer said. “The hardest part is getting back to the routine of being a football player, because I’ve been in the training room most of the time. I got to do it all last year. This is the first opportunity I’ve had to go play defense, I guess.”