Dareus Alleviates Loss Of Ends

The Alabama defense requires defensive ends who are fast enough to pass rush and contain on the outside, strong enough to take on inside offensive linemen, and smart enough to understand the complicated schemes that turn Bama's 3-4 defense into all sorts of alignments. The Crimson Tide lost both starters from 2009.

Even though Alabama lost both Brandon Deaderick and Lorenzo Washington as the starting defensive ends on the national championship team, in part because of the national championship game, the concern in the Bama camp is alleviated.

Marcell Dareus, ostensibly a back-up, was as much a first team player as Deaderick and Washington, even though Dareus started only five games. He is best remembered for his performance in the BCS National Championship Game victory over Texas, where he was a runaway choice as the Defensive Most Valuable Player. Dareus changed the complexion of that game twice. In the first quarter, his tackle of Texas quarterback Colt McCoy resulted in McCoy re-injuring his shoulder and being unable to return. Just before halftime, Dareus intercepted an ill-advised Texas shovel pass and returned it 29 yards for a crucial touchdown in Bama's 37-21 victory at the Rose Bowl.

That wasn't all of the season for Dareus, a 6-4, 306-pound upcoming junior. For the year he was in on 33 tackles (more than Deaderick or Washington) including nine tackles for losses of 49 yards. He was in on a team-high seven sacks for 44 yards in opponent losses, broke up two passes and had seven quarterback hurries.

In a recent list of the five top "breakout defensive linemen" in the Southeastern Conference by the Scout.com Florida site, Dareus was number one.

Alabama beat writers remember a conversation with Washington during Dareus's freshman season. If Dareus was as big and strong and fast as reported during his freshman season, "What will he be like as a senior?"

Washington through for a moment and then said, "I don't think he'll be around here as a senior."

Dareus is considered a very high NFL draft possibility following the 2010 season.

"He's a beast," tight end Michael Williams said, describing what it's like to face Dareus every day in practice.

And Dareus is not the only candidate for playing time at defensive end. Outstanding recruiting has made Bama deep and dangerous on the defensive front.

Most project Luther Davis, a 6-3, 279-pound senior to be the other starter at end. Davis has played in 34 games in his three-year career and has 26 tackles, 23 of them in the past two seasons. He has been in on five tackles for loss and has two quarterback hurries.

Damion Square (6-3, 284, sophomore), back from a knee injury that ended his season against Florida International, had a big spring and generally comes off the edge in passing situations. Square's presence allows Dareus to move inside in those situations.

Last year when Bama Coach Nick Saban was discussing injuries, he said he considered the loss of Square in the second game of the 2009 season to be a big loss. Square had been redshirted in 2008.

Darrington Sentimore (6-3, 280) was a force on the scout team last year and the redshirt freshman could contribute this season.

Sophomore Undra Billingsley (6-2, 276), who moved to tight end last year as a redshirt freshman, has returned to the defensive front.

Brandon Lewis (6-4, 274), a junior college transfer, could also work into the playing rotation.

A handful of redshirt freshmen could be candidates at defensive end or perhaps at one of the linebacker spots. They are:

William Ming (6-3, 263), Chris Bonds (6-4, 263), and Brandon Moore (6-5, 305).

Anthony Orr (6-4, 268) entered The University as a "grayshirt" and took part in spring drills.

Sophomore Glenn Harbin (6-5, 257) did not play last year as a redshirt freshman.

Milton Talbert, who would have been a senior, has been placed on medical scholarship and will no longer participate in football, but will remain at The University.

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