Bama Frosh Most Likely To Help
The Alabama situation is unusual, an embarrassment of riches in talented players. Men who might star at one school as a freshman have their work cut out for them to even see the field on Saturdays when playing for the Crimson Tide.
Being held out of games as a Bama football newcomer is not an indication that the player is not going to be a contributor. Even if that first year contribution is only as a member of the scout team, men who follow the Nick Saban process can be expected to become championship level players.
As noted in a previous article, in order to see playing time as a freshman the player must have exceptional ability. Moreover, there has to be a need at the position. Although a freshman might even earn a starting position for the 2013 Tide, at this time it doesn't appear likely. Alabama has many players who are returning with national championship credentials, and there are veterans at virtually every position.
Nevertheless, Saban has a history of working first year players into the rotation, and that's one of many reasons top players choose to join the Tide, even knowing the competition that awaits.
Alabama has won three of the last four national championships, including the last two titles, and is considered a dynasty. So which of Bama's newcomers might become a visible part of the dynasty?
No. 10 – Long snapper Cole Mazza. For three years, the snapping duties on punts and placekicks were performed by Carson Tinker; there is no one on the team with college long snapping ability. Although M.K. Taylor looked fine in the spring, the fact that Alabama signed a long snapper may mean Saban and his staff believed there was an immediate need at a position ordinarily held by a walk-on.
No. 9 – Tailback Derrick Henry. Henry is not going to beat out T.J. Yeldon, and may not be able to beat out Kenyan Drake, but he showed in the spring that he is a force to be reckoned with. Even though he suffered a broken leg in the spring, he is expected to be able to go full bore in August. And at this number 9 spot, if Henry doesn't step in as at least the number three tailback, then look for Tyren Jones or Alvin Kamara or Altee Tenpenny to do it.
No. 8 – Offensive lineman Brandon Hill. Talk about your big man on campus, Hill has to continue his weight management program (getting down from about 400 to a manageable 350 or so on his 6-7 frame), but he could be another in the line of big, powerful Bama offensive linemen. With Leon Brown being dismissed from the team, he's the only new offensive lineman who took part in spring drills.
No. 7 – Defensive lineman A'Shawn Robinson. Defensive linemen are worth their weight in gold, and even in the current down market, that's considerable for a man 6-4, 320. Robinson is big and strong enough to play the nose, athletic enough to be an end, and could be the perfect man for the common Bama scheme of an extra rush lineman.
No. 6 – Cornerback Maurice Smith. Of if not Smith, safety Eddie Jackson. It's not that Alabama can't plug the gaps left by the losses of Dee Milliner and Robert Lester. It's just that Bama uses a lot of defensive backs (sometimes six at a time) and players like Smith and Jackson can play a standard position and both could also play the Tide's "Star" and "Money" spots when in those frequent nickel and dime situations.
No. 5 – Wide receiver Robert Foster. Foster was considered the number four wide receiver prospect in the nation. Raheem Falkins worked with Bama in the spring and looked like a man who could be in the rotation, and he was only the 64th best prospect. Although Bama is loaded at wide receiver, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Foster and Falkins contributing this year.
No. 4 – Linebacker/defensive lineman Jonathan Allen. Nick Saban loves those guys who are big enough (6-3, 264) to mix it up on the line, and also athletic enough to play the jack linebacker position and cause a little havoc in opposing backfields.
No. 3 – Linebacker Tim Williams. If there has been one refrain from the Alabama football camp since the end of last season it has been that the Tide wants to have a better pass rush. And that, incidentally, is the same refrain that was heard after the 2011 season. Men like Tim Williams were brought in for their pass rushing abilities.
No. 2 – Tight end/H-back O.J. Howard. The number one prospect in the nation as a pass-catching tight end, Howard went through spring practice and showed that his size (6-6, 235) along with his great speed and excellent receiving skills offers the opportunity to reinvent whichever position he plays.
No. 1 – Linebacker Reuben Foster. Alabama returns an All-America in C.J. Mosley at weakside linebacker. The Crimson Tide returns a sure high draft choice in Trey DePriest at middle linebacker. So Foster, the nation's number one inside linebacker prospect, isn't going to beat out one of them. But if Bama could alternate starters with Mosley (Nico Johnson), the Tide defense will find a way to work Foster into the playing rotation. He is, in truth, too good to keep off the field.
Editor's Note: It seems I was using old information, and beyond that not using it precisely, when I wrote that Leon Brown was no longer with the team. The latest I have is that he has not been dismissed, but that he is hanging to a thread. My apologies, and I hope he makes it.
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