TUSCALOOSA — The way Javier Arenas sees it, he should have been in Alabama’s secondary a couple of seasons ago.
He’s always pictured himself as a defensive player first, and a kick and punt returner second. If he starts at cornerback when the Crimson Tide meets Clemson a week from Saturday, and plays that position as well as he returns kicks, he’ll make Alabama fans and the coaching staff quite happy.
Indeed, Arenas’ playing time figures to increase dramatically this season as he is used in the secondary as a cornerback and a nickelback, as well as a kick and punt returner.
“(The previous coaching staff) recruited me as a special teams player,” the 5-foot-9, 198-pound junior from Tampa said. “I came in here as a cornerback first and a special teams man after that. The coaching staff didn’t have confidence in my playing corner, but I had confidence in myself.”
That confidence has been evident in preseason practice, according to head coach Nick Saban, who said Arenas has “done a really good job; he’s played really well.”
Saban added the increased defensive role hasn’t affected Arenas’ effectiveness in the return game.