THE LEAD

Alabama coach Nick Saban doesn’t allow his freshmen to speak to the media, so Tuesday was a rare opportunity for freshman offensive lineman Cam Robinson.

In fact, it was just his second time being interviewed as a college player.

The first time was after the Southeastern Conference championship game.

But Robinson, who attended West Monroe High School, said he is comfortable in front of the mic.

“I did a lot in high school, so it’s not so bad,” Robinson said.

That was just a year ago when the 5-star recruit was the most sought after offensive lineman in the nation.

It didn’t take long for Robinson to make an impact.

He became the first true freshman to start at left tackle for Alabama since Saban took over the program.

“I’m glad he’s protecting my blindside,” Bama quarterback Blake Sims said. “I wouldn’t want anyone else doing it for me.”

Robinson (6-6, 323 pounds) has 32 knockdown blocks and has allowed just three sacks in 792 snaps.

“Cam will tell you he is just scratching the surface,” Bama offensive line coach Mario Cristobal said. “He understands what this whole process is about.”

Cristobal said the sky is the limit for Robinson, who enrolled at Alabama in January and got a chance to go through spring drills.

“It’s a tremendous adjustment,” Cristobal said. “His head was spinning at first because of the speed of the game and the regimen of college athletics. He just turned 19, so for a guy who was 18 at the time to take all of that in and adapting and performing like he is on Saturdays is tremendous.”

Robinson said it helps going up against the Alabama defense every day.

“Our players prepare you to play against anybody,” Robinson said.

Thursday will be Robinson’s first game in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. West Monroe fell a game short during Robinson’s junior year in 2012, falling to Barbe in the Class 5A semifinals.

PLAYER TO WATCH

Derrick Henry. While T.J. Yeldon is the team’s leading rusher, Henry isn’t far behind. The sophomore from Florida has rushed for 895 yards and 10 TDs. Henry could be a key piece of the Tide’s running game, especially since Yeldon (932 yards. 10 touchdowns) has been battling a hamstring injury.

QUOTABLE

“No. I’m not really a guy who watches a lot of football on TV. I’m more of a cartoon guy. ”

-- Blake Sims, quarterback, on if he had watched Ohio State much

DID YOU KNOW?

Alabama, with 10, has more Louisiana natives on its roster than every team that made it to a bowl this year other than LSU, Louisiana-Lafayette and Louisiana Tech.

“Everybody on the team is close, but the guys from Louisiana all have an even closer bond,” said Alabama linebacker Tim Williams, a University High grad. “We are always talking being the boys from the boot.”

Safety Landon Collins of New Orleans and linebacker Denzel Devall of Bastrop have helped lead the way.

“Landon and Denzel took us under their wings,” said Williams. “They are the older guys were extremely helpful and showed us the ropes and preparing for what to expect. They were a big reason why I decided to come.”

LAGNIAPPE

Alabama linebacker Trey DePriest, an Ohio native, was a Michigan fan growing up… Alabama is one of the least experienced teams in the country according to Phil Steele’s 2014 Combined Experience Chart. The Tide ranks 107th out of 128 in total experience.

-- Rod Walker