Post-scrimmage defensive depth chart

Taking a semi-educated guess at the defensive depth chart, based on practice observations and last Saturday's scrimmage.

Defensive line

First Second Third
End Nautyn M-Loescher Todd Bates Jon Brunson
Tackle Jarret Johnson Derek Sanders JoLee Taylor
Nose Tackle Kenny King Anthony Bryant Bart Raulston
End Kindal Moorehead Antwan Odom Gerard Clark

Jarret Johnson

The trio of Moorehead, King and Johnson are experienced starters, and McKay-Loescher also has several starts under his belt---though many predict he'll have a hard time holding off Odom in that role.

Add Odom and Bates at end and Bryant at tackle in the mix, and Bama's D-Line rotation is already one of the more athletic in the country.

Kindal Moorehead

Bates is nursing a double groin pull, but should be fine. ‘Bear' Bryant has improved his conditioning, but needs to continue his progress and lose a bit more weight. When he's fresh, Bryant does well, but his production drops off when he's tired. Plus, Sanders and Raulston appear capable of providing some snaps at tackle.

If one more SEC-caliber tackle can be found and Clark realizes at least some of his potential, then this unit should be very good.

By the way, 2002 signees Chris Harris and Kyle Tatum were at practice last week, both claiming they wanted a shot at playing time next season. Tatum reports his weight is up to 280 pounds.

Other linemen getting work this spring are Adam Campbell, T.J. Shaddix, Mickey O'Rear and Alex McSorley.

Linebacker

First Second Third
Strongside Cornelius Wortham Mark Anderson P.J. Fletcher
Middle Freddie Roach Marvin Brown Brandon Dean
Rover Brooks Daniels Jason Rawls Juke King

Freddie Roach

Wortham and Daniels are obviously entrenched No. 1 at their respective positions, and both should be strengths next season for the Tide.

Brown entered Saturday's scrimmage first string on the inside, and the rising senior is one of the hardest hitting players on the squad--perhaps only eclipsed in that regard by Roach, who most still expect to end up as the starter. But if Brown can keep himself eligible, there is no question he'll contribute next year. "Marvin will strike you, and he's impossible to hurt," was how Franchione put it after Saturday's work.

Brooks Daniels

Mark Anderson reminds Carl Torbush of the tall, fast linebackers he used to have at North Carolina, and the redshirt freshman is being groomed at strongside. Sophomore Jason Rawls' knee is still not 100 percent, but he and Juke King should provide plenty of backup at rover. And P.J. Fletcher is a solid walk-on player with potential.

If incoming junior college transfer Derrick Pope is anywhere near as talented as his publicity, Bama should be very good at linebacker in 2002.

John Bevel, Carl McInnish, Matt McMullin, King Gladney, Brandon Dean, Brad Biehl, David Simmons and Robert Allen are also working at linebacker.

Defensive backs

First Second Third
Cornerback Gerald Dixon Charlie Peprah Roberto McBride
Strong safety Waine Bacon Chris James Marc Miller
Free safety Charles Jones Roman Harper Carlos Andrews
Cornerback Anthony Madison Thurman Ward Corey Ferguson

Anthony Madison

Returning veterans Dixon, Bacon and Jones are no surprise in the starting unit. Though at this point, probably only Bacon's job is particularly secure.

Madison is of course, definitely a surprise. But the coaches seem to love his combination of strength, speed and tenacity. Fellow redshirt freshmen Roman Harper and Charlie Peprah are both pushing hard.

Waine Bacon

Players like Ward, James, McBride and Andrews all have playing experience, but they also must step up their games or risk dropping down the depth chart behind younger athletes.

Former walk-on quarterback Miller was a favorite of Ron Case's, but he has some learning to do at his new position. Ferguson and Hamid Haqq are both intelligent, hard working athletes.

If JUCO cornerback David Scott is capable of stepping right into the rotation at cornerback, then this unit could be much improved--especially if someone can be found to hold down the free safety position. And don't forget that probably the fastest defensive back, Hirchel Bolden, is setting out spring recovering from shoulder surgery.

Punting

Michael Ziifle

Bama fans looking for significant improvement over last season may be disappointed. Lane Bearden appears to be still entrenched as starter. Of course Bearden is capable of big kicks, but on the other hand he's just as capable of shanks.

Like Bearden, Michael Ziifle has potential, evidenced by a 47-yard boomer and a 39-yard tail dragger that went out of bounds inside the five yardline, during Saturday's scrimmage. But Ziifle also had two other kicks for 10- and 28-yards respectively.

Freshman Jeremy Shatz punted during pre-practice warmups, but he did not have a kick during actual scrimmage work.


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