Since playing high school football with and against Julio Jones, Alabama safety Robert Lester has dedicated himself to standing out as the very best he can be. It just took everyone else a little longer to notice.
Look no further than Alabama's offensive line to learn why the Crimson Tide were so dominant against the Michigan Wolverines: Blocking created 171 yards untouched out of 234 yards rushing.
Alabama might have lost six defensive starters to the NFL, but that didn't stop the Crimson Tide from pushing around Michigan in a 41-14 rout.
The time for kickoff is here, and a Week 1 matchup against Michigan will go a long way for Alabama to figure out what it will become in 2012.
The gruff, standoffish Nick Saban we grew to love is gone. For now, he's replaced by a head coach at ease with his successes.
Nick Saban allowed Alabama QB AJ McCarron to take the reins of the offense during the BCS Championship Game win last season; since then, the junior has let loose a bit.
Nick Saban and Alabama purposefully schedule elite-level opponents to open seasons, because the exposure and experience the team garners is priceless.