TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) -- Alabama's Dre Kirkpatrick has taken his
lumps from coach Nick Saban the past two years. The Crimson Tide cornerback says he needed those practice beratings to get mentally tough enough for the challenges of playing in the Southeastern Conference.
Kirkpatrick was one of the Tide's biggest recruits two years ago, a flamboyant prospect who dismissed runner-up school Texas at his signing day press conference by saying "this hat here ain't got no swagger." A more mature Kirkpatrick now says he defines swagger as being relentless and "just trying to be the best player I can be."
Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart says he saw a new focus in the 6-foot-3, 195-pounder during bowl practice and after the team's return. Tide coaches named him the team's most improved player last spring.