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Cathedral football players visit Alabama camp

NATCHEZ — Experiencing a camp at the University of Alabama can be the best of times and the worst of times, or at least, that’s the way one Cathedral High School player put it one day removed from the camp.

Eight Cathedral players made the journey to Nick Saban’s camp in Alabama, and three Green Wave players — Jardarius Anderson, Jackson Carpenter and James Coley — were selected on the All-Saban team at the camp’s conclusion. Those players received that honor for their hard work exhibited throughout the camp, and rest assured, the players’ bodies felt the impact.

“It was the worst place in the world and best place in the world,” Coley said. “I wish I could go back to it right now, but being at practice, it was terrible.”

Coley’s fellow junior, Carpenter, was riding high after the camp, delighted about being selected on the All-Saban team in his second appearance at the camp.

“It’s the greatest camp I’ve ever been to as far as football goes,” Carpenter said. “The All-Saban team means you showed a lot of effort and pride while you were there. It means a lot that me, Jardarius and James all got it.”

Head coach Ron Rushing, who transported the team to and from the camp, dropped the team off on Sunday and came back to Natchez on Monday before picking the team back up on Wednesday.

Rushing said he picked up a quiet group that was wore out by Saban and his staff. Each day, the campers woke up at 7:15 a.m. for breakfast, hit the practice field at 8:45 a.m. with drills until lunch, returned to the field for another practice and ended the day with “Bama Ball,” which was a two-hand touch game that allowed each team to make as many forward passes as they desired.

Anderson, who will see time as a dual threat quarterback next season, said he learned more about reading coverages at the camp and felt every participant was tested by Alabama’s coaching staff.

“I feel they got the most out of everybody with all the drills that we did,” Anderson said. “Those coaches kept making you work until you got tired.”

Rushing said he was impressed with how hands-on Saban and his staff were.

“It’s just a well-oiled machine,” Rushing said. “The thing that impressed me the most was that all of the Alabama position coaches are out there, and the entire time, Nick Saban and Kirby Smart are in the middle of everything.”

The highlight of the camp for Rushing and most of his players came when Cathedral attendees were asked to meet with Saban following Monday’s practice.

“A good friend of ours knew Saban, and he called up there and got us a chance to talk with Saban,” Rushing said. “They gave us a tour of the athletic facility and we talked with him for five minutes. It was great”

Carpenter called Saban intimidating, while Coley felt Saban’s height didn’t equal the legend.

“He’s real different,” Coley said. “He’s shorter in person, but he’s a great coach and knows what to say when to say it.”

Short or not, Anderson, Carpenter and Coley collectively agreed Saban’s camp made them better football players.