Seven current Alabama players were on the team when the Crimson Tide faced Virginia Tech in the 2009 season opener, but none played. They’ll get the chance Saturday, when top-ranked Alabama and unranked Virginia Tech meet in the Chick-fil-A Classic in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome.
Quarterback AJ McCarron, defensive end Ed Stinson, wide receivers Kenny Bell and Kevin Norwood, right guard Anthony Steen, linebacker Tana Patrick and offensive lineman Kellen Williams made the trip as wide eyed true freshmen, but all redshirted.
“I don’t know if I was nervous because I probably knew I wasn’t going to play,” McCarron said. “I was kind of just taking everything in, just looking around. I remember it being packed and loud.”
Defensive end Ed Stinson remembers spending his time as a cheerleader.
“I was too busy on the sideline having fun with the people that redshirted with me,” Stinson said.
Similarly, the Hokies have 11 remaining players and only one was able to play. Wide receiver D.J. Coles played as a true freshman on special teams. Coles was forced to redshirt in 2012 after being sideline with a knee injury, which makes him a fifth-year senior this year.
Alabama won 34-24 in 2009, but Tide coach Nick Saban doesn’t think it will have much effect on Saturday’s outcome.
“Really, we don’t look a lot at that game,” Saban said. “They have a lot of different players. We have a lot of different players. In some parts of the game, maybe it is beneficial to have played someone a few years back, but in other parts of the game, I think they’ll be totally different.”
Saban is still the Tide’s coach, as Frank Beamer is still at the head for the Hokies. But Beamer wasn’t interested in reflecting on the 2009 matchup.
“It was a good football game,” Beamer said Monday in a teleconference with reporters. “I thought we played well. They played well and went on to win the national championship. It was a good, tough, physical football game.”
Saban regularly praises opposing coaches, but he always has high remarks for Beamer.
“I’ve known Frank for a long time,” Saban said. “I think he’s certainly a class guy that’s a credit to college football in everything that he does, from how he represents our game with a lot of class and integrity and the outstanding job he’s done as a coach in terms of the product that he’s put on the field on a consistent basis over a long period of time.
“Just the kind of guy you’d really like to try to emulate in terms of class person, class program that they’ve had for a long period of time. Tremendous amount of respect there.”