Tony Brown came to Alabama in January as a five-star cornerback out of Beaumont, Texas, and Marlon Humphrey traveled to Tuscaloosa this summer as a five-star cornerback from the Birmingham suburb of Hoover.
Considered the top two cornerbacks nationally in the 2014 signing class, Brown and Humphrey are looking to contribute sooner than later for Nick Saban's Crimson Tide. Juniors Cyrus Jones and Bradley Sylve currently head the position, while sophomore Eddie Jackson is still working his way back from a torn ACL this spring.
"Tony has done really, really well," Saban said Thursday in a post-practice news conference. "Every freshman learns that they have a lot to learn about how they have to play. In some cases, they learn they need to play with the other people and communicate and make adjustments and depend on other people. You play a team defense where everybody has to do their job, and I've been encouraged by him and Marlon both. They've gotten a lot of reps with Eddie out and with [safety/cornerback] Geno [Smith] being out for awhile.
"Cyrus and Bradley have had really good camps, but those guys are offering a lot of competition. I think that Tony Brown will play and will be a good special-teams player, but I still think he needs to progress and not get frustrated by stuff he does not know. Tony Brown is going to be a really good player, and so is Marlon."
Humphrey is the son of former Tide tailback Bobby Humphrey.
The Crimson Tide had a two-hour indoor workout in full pads as they continue to turn their attention to next Saturday's opener against West Virginia in the Georgia Dome. Saban said today's practice would be like a Monday workout during the season, so the entire focus will be on the Mountaineers.
The Mountaineers were an uncharacteristic 4-8 last season, allowing 35 or more points six times.
"They are an explosive team with a lot of team speed, and they scored a lot of points on a lot of people last year," Saban said. "When they played well defensively, they were a pretty good team. It's a great challenge but also a great barometer."
Saban was asked what he could take away from the past three weeks, and he responded that his players truly like one another.
"I think this team is much more bought in on doing the things you need to do to be successful," he said. "There is not a lot of complaining, and I don't see a lot of negative people. I think that's always a good sign.
"Now, do we have better players at all the right positions? I think that's something you see as you play and compete in the games. Do we have the team chemistry to overcome adversity?"
Saban said senior offensive lineman Leon Brown (foot) is almost ready to go through a full practice and that senior inside linebacker Trey DePriest (knee) is nearly 100 percent from a conditioning standpoint. He added that he is encouraged by the progress of sophomore defensive lineman A'Shawn Robinson (knee).
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