There Are Numbers At Safety For Tide

Until a few years ago, the only teams on which a safety would rank among the leading tacklers would be a Vanderbilt type. Times have changed, at least at Alabama where the safeties are involved in many tackles. In fact, four of the Crimson Tide's top ten in tackles last year were safeties.

Vinnie Sunseri and Robert Lester were tied for fifth in tackles for Alabama in last year's 13-1 national championship season, both involved in 54 tackles – Sunseri with 30 primary, Lester with 19 primary. Sunseri was involved in six tackles for loss and two sacks, Lester four tackles four loss and two sacks.

Nick Perry was ninth in tackles, 38, and HaHa Clinton-Dix 10th with 37.

And the safeties do their part in pass defense, too. Clinton-Dix had five interceptions returned for 91 yards and broke up four passes. Lester had four interceptions returned for 51 yards and three pass break-ups. Sunseri had two interceptions returned for 13 yards and broke up three passes. Perry broke up two passes.

Also in the mix at safety last year was Landon Collins, who was in on 17 tackles in his true freshman season.

Also returning with some experience is Jarrick Williams, who suffered a torn ACL during pre-season practice last August and missed all of the 2012 season. He had played in 2010 (when he missed playing time with a shoulder injury) and 2011 and had not been redshirted. He is 6-1, 212.

Gone from the line-up is Lester, a three-year starter who had a total of 14 career interceptions, including eight in his sophomore season of 2010 to lead the SEC.

A redshirt freshman who had been expected to compete at safety, Eddie Williams, was dismissed from the team after he was involved in a campus mugging and theft during the off-season.

Alabama begins spring practice Saturday, March 16, and will conclude drills on April 20 with the A-Day Game at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The Crimson Tide will work the returning players and one interesting newcomer at the two safety spots. The Crimson Tide historically works its safety candidates at left and right during preparation, and then designates a strong safety and weak safety during the season. By preparing as "left" and "right" the safety candidates are prepared to play as either a strong or weak, and the technique is helpful against hurry-up-no-huddle offenses.

Although the Tide would like to have players in the safety competition do well, it is not necessary to settle on a starter until next August.

Clinton-Dix, 6-1, 209, an upcoming junior, started 10 games for the Crimson Tide last year and is regarded as being a likely starter this season.

Sunseri, also a junior, has played in 27 games and started six games last year as a dime back, or "Money" in Bama nomenclature. He is 6-0, 215.

Perry, a 6-1, 208-pound senior, played in all 14 games last year with four starts.

Landon Collins, 6-0, 202, saw action in every Tide game last year as a true freshman, more often on kicking teams than at safety. He was recognized by the coaching staff four times as a "Special Teams Player of the Week."

Alabama is expected to have one newcomer involved in safety competition this spring. Jai Miller was an outstanding high school quarterback (and basketball and baseball player). He signed with Stanford, but then elected to try his hand at pro baseball. He made three trips into the major leagues in his 10-year baseball career, and now at the age of 28 is trying to make a comeback at college football as a walk-on at Alabama. He is 6-3, 218.

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