DePriest Expected To Lead Defense

The loss of C.J. Mosley was more than just a man who had over 100 tackles each of the past two seasons. Mosley was the clear leader of the defense. Although leadership is determined over a period of time, perhaps even entering into next season, by virtue of both his experience and his position many expect upcoming senior linebacker Trey DePriest to assume that role.

Trey DePriest has been an outstanding middle linebacker for Alabama. After a back-up role as a true freshman in 2011, DePriest was a starter for the Crimson Tide the past two years, playing alongside C.J. Mosley on the inside in Bama's 3-4 scheme.

Last year he had part of the signal-calling responsibilities with Mosley. This year Alabama Coach Nick Saban expects him to be the lead man in the task.

Bama opened spring practice Saturday and Saban said, "Trey has a lot of experience. He's a very good player. We need his leadership on defense. He's obviously going to become the signal-caller, which I think everyone looks up to. He certainly has the knowledge and experience and maturity to effect other players in a positive way. I think that's something that's going to be important for our defensive team that he not only contribute with his physical performance and doing his job well, but how he effects everyone else."

Following practice, Depriest said, "I'm just blessed to have a lot of experience. I've played for a while. So I'm just trying to help out where I can. I've been around long enough to where I can handle it. Playing with C.J. last year, we took the role and kind of split it. He did the majority of it. But sometimes I've got to help him out. When teams went fastball and stuff, so he can't get it off and communicate it so I had to help there too."

That "fastball" subject has been controversial in college football discussion this year. It seemed to be water of a duck's back to DePriest.

"It doesn't really bother me," he said. "It's just something that you have to prepare a little bit harder for. That's really it."

DePriest is glad to be back preparing for football.

The Tide had its first day of spring practice Saturday and will have 15 days of work, ending with the A-Day Game on April 19.

"It feels good," DePriest said. "We didn't end the season like we wanted to. Just the chance to get back out there and actually do some football stuff instead of conditioning."

The first day, of course, was not football. DePriest said he wished it could be hitting, "but we can't do that 'til we have some pads on. It's kind of hard to play football without pads, but that's how it's got to go."

DePriest is pleased with what he sees from the Tide through the off-season program and entering spring practice. "The guys are a lot more hungry," he said. "We didn't finish the season like we wanted to. Guys knew that and they just took a different approach to it, and are trying to get back to the standard to how we do stuff.

"Everyone is just competing. Everybody's working hard at it. It's just the first day so I can't really say too much about it. Everybody looks good."

DePriest can remember his first spring. "I didn't know nothing," he said. "I was lost running around. Didn't really know much. Tried to learn as much as I could from Dont'a (Hightower), that's who I really tried to learn from, because Coach Smart could only do so much. But yeah I was lost."

The senior was asked if he had seen that in freshman Shaun Hamilton, a 2014 signee who entered The University for this semester.

"That's everybody who comes through here," DePriest said. "It's going to be a rough spring, period, because it's just hard to learn. We learn different stuff every day, so it's kind of rough to pick it up just like that. He did good for his first day, though."

DePriest has a good feeling about the team. He said, "We're pretty confident just because the coaches, they know how to develop players. That's what they did to everyone who became a star. Everybody's got to develop. We're pretty confident about it.

"I've come a long way from my freshman year."

One difference for DePriest this spring is that Defensive Coordinator Kirby Smart is no longer the coach of the inside linebackers. He's moved back to coach safeties, while new assistant Kevin Steele is working with DePriest and company.

DePriest pointed out that he's still working with Kirby, but he likes Steele. "He was cool," said the linebacker. "I like him. Coach Steele, he's a good coach. He's been around, he's been a lot of places. He knows what he's talking about and tries to pass that knowledge on to us."

DePriest said it doesn't seem like it's been a long time since he was a freshman and that he's now preparing for his final year. "It's bittersweet, I guess," he said. "It's not a big deal though. You have to graduate sometime, I guess."

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