Photo report: Redshirt freshmen set to play

Two signees played last season as true freshmen, but the majority of the incoming class sat out their first year as redshirts. <br><br>Now with a full year of practice and weight-lifting under their belts, several redshirt freshmen are set to make key contributions to the 2003 season.

(Above left) Chris Harris still needs to add weight, but the 6-6, 240-pound-plus defensive end is well on his way. A tenacious player that simply doesn't like to get blocked, Harris will be counted on in the playing rotation at defensive end.

Alabama has numerous talented athletes battling for playing time at cornerback, but impressively Ramzee Robinson used the winter and spring to climb ahead of several older players on the depth chart. His position coach (Chris Ball) said virtually all Robinson's mistakes during spring were from a lack of experience--not talent. Robinson will begin the fall as the No. 1 nickel back and should be the principal substitute at corner for the Tide.

As probably the No. 3 defensive tackle on the squad, Jeremy Clark's progress this year will arguably be the most critical of all the returning redshirt freshmen. Listed at 6-2, 287 in the spring, Clark has continued to work to build himself into an SEC tackle. His contributions will be key to the success of the 2003 defense.

In a picture taken during spring drills, Kenneth Darby walks off the practice field. Because senior Shaud Williams (at left in the photo) and junior Ray Hudson return healthy and ready to go, there will be no pressure on Darby to produce immediately at tailback. But for practice observers at least, his debut in Crimson will be as anticipated as any other redshirt freshman's. He's a compact, powerful runner with an impressive burst of speed.

Displaying his impressive athleticism, Juwan Garth soars in for the dunk at last spring's Night of Champions. Like Darby, Garth has a talented veteran in Brooks Daniels ahead of him on the depth chart. So there will be no pressure for Garth to produce right off the bat. But early on the weight-room coaches pegged Garth as an all-star in the making, and fans are going to enjoy watching him perform the next four seasons.

Like all of the redshirt freshmen defensive linemen, Kyle Tatum is continuing to build himself into an SEC player. But all of them, including Tatum, will be counted on to produce early this season. Listed at 6-7, 283 in the spring, Tatum's long frame makes it harder for him to put on (and keep on) the added bulk necessary to play inside. But his D-End athleticism should allow him to compete initially while he continues to "grow" into a defensive tackle. Position Coach Buddy Wyatt says he needs a minimum of four athletes for his playing rotation, and Tatum is slated to be one of those four.

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