First Lane Kiffin. Now Peyton Manning?
Alabama football coach Nick Saban said Thursday that Manning, the former Tennessee quarterback, visited a Crimson Tide practice earlier this month. Thursday's workout was the 14th of the spring and the last one before Saturday's A-Day game.
"Peyton Manning has been a friend and has been very well-respected for a long time," Saban said in a post-practice news conference. "I knew him when he was in Indianapolis and I was in Miami. His dad has been a really good friend of mine for a long, long, long time."
Manning, who has quarterbacked the Denver Broncos to two 13-3 regular seasons and to this past season's Super Bowl, was accompanied to Tuscaloosa by Adam Gase, Denver's offensive coordinator. Gase worked for Saban in the late 1990s as a student at Michigan State, and he was a defensive graduate assistant under Saban at LSU in 2000.
The two viewed an Alabama offense directed by Kiffin, the new coordinator who was Tennessee's head coach in 2009. Manning went 3-1 against Alabama as a player, leading the Volunteers to a memorable 41-14 romp in Legion Field as a sophomore.
"To be honest, he was just trying to learn so he could be a better player," Saban said. "A lot of people would say this guy is one of the best, if not the best, and he has probably been as good as anybody in the history of the league. After all the experience he has, he's still going out trying to seek more knowledge and understanding of the game of football so he can play better.
"He's a great example for a lot of young people, whether they're playing high school, college, Pop Warner or whatever, and it's something I have a tremendous amount of respect for. I really enjoyed visiting with him, and since they're a no-huddle team, we had a lot of questions for them."
The Tide worked out for two hours Thursday, but third- and fourth-string tailbacks Kenyan Drake and Altee Tenpenny were not present because they failed to live up to their classroom responsibilities. Saban said Drake and Tenpenny were sent to study for four hours.
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