For the most part, the position death-watches of the past two seasons turned into remarkable recovery stories, and for the 2006 fall camp, the ground has been laid for a new group to watch over. This year it's defensive tackles and ends.
"This is the first time we've really had that (questionable depth) defensively," Alabama Head Coach Mike Shula said on Monday. "Last year it was the offensive line. Two years ago it was wide receiver."
Crimson Tide Defensive Coordinator Joe Kines, who also spoke to the media on Monday, has a number in mind. A number of men he's looking for to be able to contribute on the defensive line.
"One of our goals will try to get us about 10 guys that can rush the passer this first game," he said. "You can look at the schedule for the first three or four games. If we don't find us some pass rushers it will be a long get-go here. Coach (Buddy) Wyatt, on those inside guys, and David (Turner) on those outside guys, they'll find somebody, but we're going to give everybody a chance. We've got to find us about 10 guys that can rush the passer here early."
About six players on the defensive line project to be shoe-ins for the 10-man rotation plan. They include Wallace Gilberry, Keith Saunders, Bobby Greenwood, Jeremy Clark and Dominic Lee and J.P. Adams.
In the hedging category, fighting for the four remaining spots are men like veteran Chris Harris, redshirt freshmen Brandon Deaderick, Brandon Fanney, Byron Walton and Lorenzo Washington, as well a newcomer to the position, Zeke Knight.
"We've got to find out about Lorenzo Washington, Brandon Fanney and Brandon Deaderick," Shula said. "They're going to have to contribute. They're going to have to earn that right, but we need them to contribute."
Kines also said a job rushing the passer was one of the easier ways for a true freshman to find the field on the defensive side of the ball, something that should make true freshman Milton Talbert's ears perk up. After all, it was Bobby Greenwood (who most thought would require a redshirt year to develop) who emerged out of fall camp last year for significant game action.
"Going back, the thing he did good early was rush the passer, I think that's something a young guy can do," Kines said. "Bobby came in really focused and had a great freshman year. If we're fortunate enough maybe we can find one or two guys to do that this year."
There is of course the possibility that 10 won't emerge, in which case the ones who make the field will have to be prepared to endure the heat of the early season until help emerges.