Minor Surprises On Depth Chart

So maybe it wasn't an exaggeration, all this talk about Julio. For a few weeks, Alabama's football team has supposedly been working without a depth chart, players in "personnel groupings." That changed this week and there were a few eye-catchers in the depth chart.



Alabama Coach Nick Saban made a few comments about the depth chart that was issued to the media Monday. He had promised a depth chart when the Crimson Tide got to game week.

Game week is here. Alabama opens the season at 8 p.m. EDT (7 p.m. central time) Saturday against Clemson in the GeorgiaDome in Atlanta. ABC will televise the game.

Of particular interest was the listing of two true freshmen at the top of the chart at their positions. Julio Jones, the 6-4, 210-pound freshman from Foley was number one at X, one of three wide receiver positions. Don'ta Hightower, 6-4, 250, from Lewisburg, Tenn., will start at weakside linebacker, according to the inaugural depth chart.

Among other surprises were Jones being listed as the top back-up at punt return and listed with all-star return specialist Javier Arenas as a kickoff return man. Coach Saban clarified that others, including Marquis Maze and B.J. Scott, are possible kickoff return men. Jonathan Lowe, who had kickoff return responsibilities last year, was not listed on the depth chart. Lowe was not in the initial 105 on the reporting roster.

Mike McCoy, the 6-2, 205-pound junior who has drawn much praise from Saban in fall camp, was listed number one at two wide receiver positions, Y and H. That's because McCoy will be at Y (a split position) when Alabama is in a two-wide set and at H (slotback) when the Tide has three wide receivers.

Saban said McCoy and Jones had been the two most consistent wide receivers.

Although true freshmen Barrett Jones and Tyler Love were listed as the left tackle back-ups (behind Andre Smith) and true freshman John Michael Boswell and soph Taylor Pharr as the top back-up at right tackle (behind Drew Davis), Saban said the first alternate at a tackle spot would likely be starting left guard Mike Johnson, who was the starting right tackle last year and has played both tackle spots. Johnson is backed by Brian Motley. Motley, a former starter at nose tackle, had been working at center, but Saban said he has done better at guard.

At tailback, returning starter Terry Grant was bracketed as the back-up with true freshman Mark Ingram. Glen Coffee is listed number one. Saban said he thinks Alabama has four quality running backs (Roy Upchurch is fourth), but said there may not be a so-called "third down back" in the group.

Not only is true freshman Hightower listed number one at weakside linebacker, his back-up is true freshman Chris Jordan and the man behind him a redshirt freshman, Jennings Hester.

Another newcomer made the first team. At nose tackle, junior college transfer Terrence Cody (6-5, 365) was ranked ahead of redshirt freshman Josh Chapman (6-1, 305).

As an example of the youth of the team, of the 33 men listed on the 11 defensive positions, only two are seniors – defensive end Bobby Greenwood and safety Rashad Johnson. Alabama listed six seniors on defense, but only four at first team spots. The depth chart had 12 positions with 37 men listed.

The Tide coach said Johnson and McClain are the leaders of the defense. He said that having Hightower next to McClain (who is only a sophomore) "gives us two big inside 'backers." Ge said that Hightower had done an excellent job of learning his assignments and "taking it to the field."

Saban said he considered three men to be first team defensive ends. Greenwood and Brandon Deaderick were listed as the two starters with Lorenzo Washington, a former starting nose tackle, listed as Greenwood's back-up. Saban noted that Washington had done well playing nose tackle, even though it is not his natural position.

Although he didn't mention the tight end position Monday, Travis McCall was listed number one and Nick Walker number two. It is believed they, too, would be considered both first team players and expect Alabama to frequently play them together.

The depth chart did not include Nick Fanuzzi, last year's number three quarterback. Fanuzzi had been spotted running the scout team. Monday Saban announced that Fanuzzi had decided to transfer. Saban issued an appreciation for Fanuzzi's work and said Alabama would help him find a new football home.

The depth chart at quarterback had three-year starter John Parker Wilson followed by Greg McElroy, last year's back-up, and then true freshman Star Jackson and walk-on Thomas Darrah bracketed in the third spot.

Here is the depth chart:

OFFENSE

WR 8 Julio Jones (6-4, 210, Freshman)

82 Earl Alexander (6-5, 216, Soph)

86 Chris Jackson (6-1, 190, Freshman)

11 Brandon Gibson (6-1, 196, Freshman)

WR 80 Mike McCoy (6-2, 205, Junior)

4 Marquis Maze (5-9, 171, Freshman)

or 9 Nikita Stover (6-0, 203, Senior)

WR 80 Mike McCoy (6-2, 205, Junior)

1 Burton Scott (5-11, 188, Freshman)

15 Darius Hanks (6-0, 172, Soph)

LT 71 Andre Smith (6-4, 330, Junior)

75 Barrett Jones (6-5, 280, Freshman)

or 72 Tyler Love (6-7, 290, Freshman)

LG 78 Mike Johnson (6-6, 299, Junior)

66 Brian Motley (6-2, 289, Soph)

C 59 Antoine Caldwell (6-3, 305, Senior)

70 Evan Cardwell (6-2, 279, Junior)

or 73 William Vlachos (6-0, 305, Freshman)

RG 76 Marlon Davis (6-2, 300, Senior)

74 David Ross (6-3, 295, Soph)

RT 79 Drew Davis (6-7, 300, Junior)

67 John Michael Boswell (6-5, 300, Freshman)

or 68 Taylor Pharr (6-6, 285, Soph)

TE 83 Travis McCall (6-2, 260, Senior)

88 Nick Walker (6-5, 248, Senior)

87 Chris Underwood (6-3, 224, Freshman)

85 Preston Dial (6-3, 245, Soph)

or 17 Brad Smelley (6-3, 218, Freshman)

QB 14 John Parker Wilson (6-2, 211, Senior)

12 Greg McElroy (6-2, 220, Soph)

2 Star Jackson (6-3, 195, Freshman)

or 16 Thomas Darrah (6-5, 212, Freshman)

TB 38 Glen Coffee (6-1, 198, Junior)

22 Mark Ingram (5-10, 215, Freshman)

or 29 Terry Grant (5-9, 190, Soph)

5 Roy Upchurch (6-0, 201, Junior)

FB 40 Baron Huber (6-3, 249, Junior)

34 Jeramie Griffin (6-2, 228, Freshman)

PK/KO 99 Leigh Tiffin (6-1, 199, Junior)

44 Corey Smith (6-0, 195, Freshman)

HOLD 97 P.J. Fitzgerald (5-11, 198, Junior)

DEFENSE

LE 93 Bobby Greenwood (6-5, 278, Senior)

97 Lorenzo Washington (6-5, 275, Junior)

90 Milton Talbert (6-3, 263, Soph)

94 Undra Billingsley (6-3, 275, Freshman)

NT 62 Terrence Cody (6-5, 365, Junior)

99 Josh Chapman (6-1, 305, Freshman)

92 Damion Square (6-2, 290, Freshman)

RE 95 Brandon Deaderick (6-4, 287, Junior)

96 Luther Davis (6-3, 299, Soph)

or 57 Marcel Dareus (6-3, 280, Freshman)

SAM 13 Cory Reamer (6-4, 218, Junior)

5 Jerrell Harris (6-3, 215, Freshman)

or 55 Chavis Williams (6-4, 223, Soph)

MIKE 25 Rolando McClain (6-4, 249, Soph)

45 Charles Higgenbotham (6-0, 218, Soph)

*21 Prince Hall (5-11, 235, Junior)

WILL 56 Dont'a Hightower (6-4, 250, Freshman)

36 Chris Jordan (6-2, 220, Freshman)

42 Jennings Hester (6-3, 219, Freshman)

JACK 98 Brandon Fanney (6-4, 257, Soph)

32 Eryk Anders (6-2, 227, Junior)

41 Courtney Upshaw (6-2, 230, Freshman)

LC 28 Javier Arenas (5-9, 198, Junior)

24 Marquis Johnson (5-11, 192, Junior)

15 Alonzo Lawrence (6-1, 190, Freshman)

RC 3 Kareem Jackson (5-11, 192, Soph)

8 Chris Rogers (6-0, 195, Junior)

or 23 Robby Green (6-0, 180, Freshman)

SS 27 Justin Woodall (6-2, 220, Junior)

4 Mark Barron (6-2, 215, Freshman)

S 49 Rashad Johnson (6-0, 186, Senior)

26 Ali Sharrief (5-9, 205, Junior)

or 39 Tyrone King (5-11, 198, Junior)

SNAP 50 Brian Selman (6-0, 211, Junior)

61 Carson Tinker (6-1, 230, Freshman)

or 53 Daren Hallman (6-3, 230, Freshman)

PUNT 97 P.J. Fitzgerald (5-11, 198, Junior)

98 Heath Thomas (6-3, 213, Junior)

PR/KOR 28 Javier Arenas (5-9, 198, Junior)

8 Julio Jones (6-4, 210, Freshman)

or 4 Marquis Maze (5-9, 171, Freshman)

*Prince Hall suspended first three games

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