How 4th and 31 Nearly Didn’t Happen
Isaiah Bond's name will live in infamy in Lee County, AL after, you guessed it, 4th-and-31. But what if he had been assigned to play DB when he arrived in Tuscaloosa? He had experience there at Buford High. It could have happened, but Bond had other plans. He discussed that topic and many more Thursday at his Rose Bowl press conference. More here:
On being a Rose Bowl underdog per Vegas
"I feel like it's a great way to go out there and show why we're not the underdog, being the underdog. So I feel like, like in the Georgia game, saying Georgia is going to beat us even though we didn't think that was going to happen. But it does add some fire to the chamber."
On the season's turning point for Alabama being the Texas loss
"I guess you could say that. I definitely told the guys after the Texas game, because I knew the type of team we had, and I was very disappointed. So I definitely told the guys, like, 'listen, I know this game, we lost this game, but the season's not over.
"'We shouldn't lose no more games this season. We really wasn't supposed to lose this game.' So I told the guys, c'mon, settle down, strap down, I could see the talent in the room. I know what everybody can do. We'll be able to get this done. Them believing in that and in the byproduct, that's why we're here."
On the origin of the 'Grave Digger' T-shirts/NIL
"The Grave Digger, I had like people from Alabama reach out to me about the Grave Digger. Because obviously it was a legendary play. We didn't want people getting out with the idea before me, so we trademarked that and dropped some T-shirts. We didn't want other people making money out of it. That's why we dropped it so quick.
"I'm definitely working with people. It's not all 100 percent just me. Definitely have a team behind me working with the shirts as well.
"I came in with the class, where NIL was kind of transitioning into college. It wasn't like really up front. It was kind of like when you get to college, you play, be on the field, you get paid.
"I like it. It's good for the players. We work so many hours of the week. So I feel like, honestly, it's the least they could do is at least pay us a little bit for how many hours you're putting in.
"At the end of the day it's almost compared to work but we're walking around some days we're 85. And we're 19, 20 years old. It's a lot of tax on our body. The money definitely helps a little bit.
"I could definitely say in my scenario, my collective, definitely gone up even since when I got here. So it's obviously, like I said, going back to getting on the field, you show them your value.
"Like Coach [Nick Saban] said when we first came here, you show your value, you're going to get paid your value. So them going out and believing that I have great value for the team, it's a great feeling.
"I never really realized how much schools are making until NIL came around. And it was breaking down the basics, because I was very new. I remember when they were talking about how much these schools are making. I was, like, whoa, I didn't know they were making that much.
"I know football is making a lot of money but I didn't know it was on that type of scale. Obviously I feel what they're contributing back, it's nothing contributed compared to what they're making, but it's something that helps. So I'm appreciative."
On the Michigan secondary
"I see a great defense. I see a well-coached defense. Guys are, they're going to be in their spots. They're great athletes as well."
On how 4th-and-31 changed his life
"My life has definitely changed a lot since that play. I'll give you an example. I was at a basketball game. And I had to leave -- a Bama game. I had to leave. I was on the court, too. It was running down, like, trying to take pictures of me. I had to get up out of there. That was like my first, I would say, big-time moment.
"But I don't be going out there anymore especially (indiscernible), because everybody be trying to -- I'm more reserved, to-myself type of person. I'm not really too social. I really like to chill myself. So I don't like attention, stuff like that. But it's good to have, but I don't know. It don't really impress me too much.
"It was interrupting the game. The game going on, it's like a hundred people in line trying to take a picture. And I'm on the court. It was kind of distracting to the game. I'm going to get out of here before it gets bigger."
On Alabama's secondary
"Honestly, a great secondary. I think we have the best secondary in the country. I'll say that first. But them going against us every single day, one of the best receiver groups in the country -- iron sharpens iron. When you go against the best you'll get the best."
On secondary coach Travaris Robinson
"'T-Rob,' he's a great, phenomenal coach. We have a great relationship even though I'm on opposite side of the ball. I love what he's doing with the DBs just love everything he's doing for the team.
"Coming out of high school, I was an athlete, so I played DB as well. So they wanted me to play DB at first, but I ended up making that switch to offense because I wanted to play receiver.
"He recruited me. That's why we have a good relationship. We talked even before I committed to Bama. We always talked."
On if he could still play DB
"Most def. DB is kind of a natural thing. It's natural to guard somebody. You either got it or you don't. Not everybody can guard somebody. It's not that easy to go out there and just guard a naturaally talented and gifted human from Jesus, you know what I'm saying? You have to stick with him all the way down the field. It's not that easy.
"You have to have the skills and the right tool set. And I've been training for DB longer than receiver. It's not like I'm just out there. I've got DB. I know, like, the DB techniques.
"I felt like honestly it helped me a lot. Just knowing really what a DB, what goes in their head because I was a DB, what coverages is, what a DB might do in a situation. I feel like all that background knowledge does actually help me at receiver as well.
"I made [the decision to concentrate on WR] in high school. So actually I didn't make a switch. I played both and I got to college and I was, like, I told the coaches I wanted to play receiver. I was, like, because I had offers for receiver and DB. So they wanted me, you could either play both.
"But I told coaches I don't want to play DB. If you want me I'll play on the offensive side of the ball. It was all gravy from there. No coach had a problem with that. I kind of could choose what side of the ball I wanted to go to."
On if he was tempted to play DB at this level
"I'm not going to say it was tempting, but it's also tempting to be on offense as well. (Laughter). It's also tempting to be on offense as well because you'll be on the TV. You're going to be on ESPN regardless. So I think that's why a major reason I picked receiver, to be in the spotlight."
On his first impressions of 'LANK' aka 'Let All Naysayers Know'
"Lankk, it was kind of like -- it was actually after that South Florida game, and it was in Tampa, Jalen in town, it was like we all had a big talk. Actually the Texas game. Had a big talk, everybody in the locker room. It was like we're going to live and die with this Lank term.
"Because, like I said earlier, I seen the type of team we had. That Texas loss, I knew everybody was going to judge us out there. I knew the type of team we had. We didn't play our best game on the field. I knew we left a lot on the table. I knew if we polished a lot of things we'll be able to do get it done. You see why we're here now."
On his relationship with Milroe
"Me and Jalen, we have a great relationship. We always talk. Obviously you want to have a great relationship with the quarterback and receiver. Us talking every single day, just telling me -- I told him I believe in him all the time. I believe in trust. You have to trust somebody. Not only will you trust them, but they'll play better themselves because if you have no trust or confidence, if you're not going to go out there, feel like yourself. So I think trust and confidence is a big thing on that field.
"I would describe his path as resilience. Could have been a lot of points in the season where a regular person could have showed different sides of themselves. He stayed the same leader, same passion about football. Went out there every single day still loving it. I will say I just show true respect for the way he handled the situation as well."
On being Milroe's top target this season
"Definitely a product of chemistry and trust. I've gone to college and realized you're going to practice how you play. So I go 100 percent in practice. When I go out in the game, it's the same thing. We practice four, five days a week, and it's only one game. I'll probably say our practice is harder than the game. Get to the game, it's like it's another day out there, honestly."
On hearing about former Bama WR Devonta Smith practicing at DB
"I did hear that. I've heard he was one of the best DBs in the room, even when he was at receiver. I think great receivers playing DB, I think that was -- hopefully maybe one day, next season, I get on the defensive side of the ball too in practice. We'll see.
"I'm a great competitor. I feel like every time I'm on the field, I'm the best player on the field, no matter who is out there. Just me having that mindset and that training, it will be a byproduct of that."
On being remembered for more than just 4th-and-31
"I know I made a very famous play at this point. The cheer factor, social media we have nowadays. Obviously I know everybody seen it. Like I said I'm the next guy, next type of play. I want people to remember me for more stuff. But definitely now more moments to remember me by before I get done with my college career."
On how the fateful ball looked coming at him in the Jordan-Hare end zone
"It looked like money. Looked like money, for sure. When I seen it in the air I knew I was going to catch it even before... I knew I was going to catch it. No question.
"Looked regular size. It was in the air. I was saying God blessed me with some good eyeballs. Seen the ball, I seen where it was tracking. I knew where I had to get on the field, kind of set him up, step back on him. Seen it. Great throw."
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Gallery Credit: Buck Wilde