Tide Rebuilding Defensive End

Marcell Dareus and Luther Davis are off to the National Football League. Kerry Murphy has been forced to give up football because of injury. Those three men accounted for 20 of the 26 starting opportunities at defensive end for Alabama last year. This is one of the few Bama defensive spots that is being rebuilt for 2011.

In the first six Alabama games of 2010, Damion Square was one of the Alabama defensive end starters. In two of those games, Marcell Dareus was unable to play because of an NCAA penalty. Square continued to play, but in the final half of the season the starting jobs went to Dareus and Luther Davis.

Square had a tough start to his Alabama career. The 6-3, 285-pound junior was redshirted in 2008. On the re-boot in 2009, Square suffered a torn ACL in the second game of the year. That was the same season that linebacker Dont'a Hightower was injured, and following the season Crimson Tide Coach Nick Saban said he considered the loss of Square on a par with that of Hightower.

As Bama approaches the start of fall camp on August 5 and the beginning of the season hosting Kent State on September 3, Square seems likely to hold down one of the defensive end spots. Last year he was in on 27 tackles (second among ends to Dareus, who was in on 33) with two tackles for loss and three sacks. In the spring, Square appeared to be primarily a left end, but in Alabama's complicated defensive scheme an end can be left or right, or even at an inside tackle position with a linebacker moved to an edge position.

Two junior college transfers may be the top competitors for the other starting job (or both, since no place on the depth chart is secure). Quinton Dial (6-5, 310) and Jesse Williams (6-4, 340) were new to the Bama defense in the spring. The junior college transfers, as all ends and nose tackles in the Bama scheme, are listed simply as defensive linemen. It had been thought that Dial would be an end and Williams a nose tackle, but both seem suited to Saban's preference for big ends.

At Southeastern Conference Media Days, Saban said that his defense calls for bigger defensive linemen, and Williams – who could also be a nose tackle this year – and Dial fit that bill.

Alabama seems to have more defensive linemen than most teams, even though the Tide is ostensibly a 3-4 defense. Thus, there are a number of other candidates at end.

Ed Stinson (6-4, 282, sophomore) was with the first defense at right end in the A-Day Game and figures into the mix. He was getting regular playing time last year at outside linebacker, but has made the switch to defensive end.

Otherwise, there is a notable lack of experience at defensive end.

Chris Bonds (6-4, 263, soph) and William Ming (6-3, 263, soph) have had only brief game experience. Undra Billingsley (6-2, 269, junior) came to Alabama as a tight end and has made the transition to defense, but has seen most of his playing time on special teams.

Brandon Lewis (6-3, 274, junior) came to Bama from junior college last year, but was redshirted in 2010. Wilson Love (6-4, 290), the brother of Tide offensive lineman Tyler Love, was a grayshirt last fall, re-signed with the 2011 class and went through spring practice, and is a true freshman this fall.

Alabama's signing class reflects Saban's understanding of the importance of having many defensive linemen. In addition to junior college transfers Dial and Williams and grayshirt Wilson, incoming freshmen who have tghe potential to be defensive ends are:

Xzavier Dickson (6-3, 240), LaMichael Fanning, Jeoffrey Pagan (6-4, 272), and D.J. Pettway (6-2, 272).

One player who might have been prominent in the discussion has been an off-the-field disappointment. Darrington Sentimore (6-3, 261, sophomore) seems to have plenty of athletic ability, but he has been in the Saban doghouse, including being indefinitely suspended as Bama approaches the start of practice.

This is one in a series looking at each position for the upcoming Alabama football season.

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