Head coach Tommy Tuberville notes that a player who improved in spring drills could help fill the shoes of Thompson and Sims this fall.
"On the defensive side of the ball, Zach Clayton stepped up--he is going to be a force for us," Tuberville says of the redshirt sophomore. "He is somebody that can really help us."
Clayton, who was in on eight tackles in spot duty last year, is currently competing on the track and field team as a discus thrower in addition to continuing his offseason football workouts.
Another redshirt sophomore also caught Tuberville's eye in the 15 days of spring drills. "Linebacker-wise, Craig Stevens played well for us last year, but he really improved," the coach says. "I think he is a guy who can step up."
Craig Stevens is part of what is expected to be an improved group of linebackers.
The Tigers must replace starter Patrick Lee at one cornerback spot and two other CBs who saw plenty of playing time, Jonathan Wilhite and Zach Gilbert. Walter McFadden and Aairon Savage both spend time on the first team in spring drills opposite returning starter Jerraud Powers.
"McFadden and Aairon Savage at one corner, that was a concern and both those guys really stepped up to the next level," Tuberville says. "I think both those guys are really going to be able to help us next fall and be able to alternate and help us in the nickel and dime package."