Alabama football: Sorting through questions before Crimson Tide’s spring practice begins

Credit: seccountry.com

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Spring is in the air at the University of Alabama, and while that means baseball, softball and a bunch of other sports, football again will take center stage when the Crimson Tide begin practices Tuesday.


While like usual that means position battles and tweaking the offensive and defensive schemes, which always seem to evolve under Nick Saban, what’s especially new this year are the numerous new faces.


TIDE’S PROJECTED DEPTH CHART: Offense | Defense


With the departure of three assistant coaches, responsibilities were tweaked as their replacements hired. Moreover, the three-time reigning SEC champions have a record 16 new players who have joined the team as early enrollees and junior college transfers.


Among them are quarterbacks Tua Tagovailoa and Mac Jones, who are the only scholarship quarterbacks on the roster not named Jalen Hurts, and the versatile Chadarius Townsend. He might get a look at a couple of different positions, but is listed on the initial spring roster at running back.


Here are 10 things to look for and expect as Alabama works its way toward A-Day, which has been scheduled for 3 p.m. (ET) on April 22 (ESPN).


1. How will Hurts work with offensive coordinator Brian Daboll?

Bringing in a coach from the New England Patriots signaled that offense will have more multiple looks while also playing to its strengths. Granted, the Crimson Tide’s offense set just about every offensive team record during Lane Kiffin’s three years in Tuscaloosa, but combined with the offensive line potentially getting a lot bigger, power football figures to be a big part of this team’s identity.


Alabama QB Jalen Hurts (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
2. Where does Minkah Fitzpatrick play?

Replacing quality players like Marlon Humphrey and Eddie Jackson never is easy, but when Jackson suffered a fractured leg against Texas A&M coaches moved Fitzpatrick from cornerback to safety in the base package. He still landed All-American honors. How the younger defensive backs develop could dictate where the versatile Fitzpatrick plays, especially if someone like sophomore Shyheim Carter shows he’s ready to be an every-down starter at cornerback.


Alabama DB Minkah Fitzpatrick (Chris Kirschner/SEC Country)
3. Who will step up at wide receiver?

ArDarius Stewart made an early jump to the NFL, Gehrig Dieter was a graduate transfer and Raheem Falkins no longer is listed on the roster, so there are spots to fill. Look for senior Robert Foster to be given every opportunity to win at least a regular rotation role, but otherwise the competition should to be fierce. Cam Sims is expected to make a push for more playing time, while Trevon Diggs should become a regular contributor. With top prospects Jerry Jeudy and Tyrell Shavers already enrolled, and Devonta Smith and Henry Ruggs III due to arrive over the summer, a lot of players will be looking over their shoulders.


Alabama WR Cam Sims (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
4. Who will earn starting and rotation spots on the defensive line?

Jonathan Allen and Dalvin Tomlinson weren’t just defensive stalwarts, but well-liked team leaders who will be difficult to replace on many levels. Alabama has depth in terms of numbers, but after defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne (who doesn’t quite realize how good he is yet) a lot of it is unproven. Pencil in Da’Shawn Hand to start at one end spot, but everything else is up for grabs, with the competition including Josh Frazier, junior college transfer Isaiah Buggs, Quinnen Williams and Raekwon Davis.


Alabama DL Da’Shawn Hand (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
5. Are offensive linemen Alex Leatherwood and Elliot Baker ready to challenge for starting jobs?

A staple of the Alabama program is anyone brought in as a junior college transfer immediately is expected to challenge for a starting spot. Granted, it doesn’t always work out that way, but if the 6-foot-7 Baker has a good spring, the size of the Crimson Tide’s line could go from big to huge. Leatherwood is listed at 6-6, 325 pounds, and Saban didn’t hesitate to plug in Jonah Williams as a freshman at right tackle last year. Regardless, look for Williams to get a long look at left tackle this spring.


Alabama early enrollee Alex Leatherwood (Sam Spiegelman/SEC Country)
6. Where will linebacker Rashaan Evans play?

Similar to Fitzpatrick, Evans is versatile enough play anywhere in his position group, and could go from the outside to the interior depending on the down and formation. Expect defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt to move him around as a pass-rusher when the season starts, but his base position likely will be influenced on how well players like Mack Wilson improve. Evans made his first start in the College Football Playoff against Washington while filling in for injured Shaun Dion Hamilton. He made 7 tackles and 11 more vs. Clemson.


Alabama LB Rashaan Evans (Chris Kirschner/SEC Country)
7. How much can Najee Harris contribute from Day 1?

True freshman Najee Harris was hailed by many as being the nation’s top prospect last year. He was rated as such by Rivals, Scout and PrepStar, and was third overall according to the 247Sports composite rankings. However, he’ll still have to earn his reps, especially with Alabama returning Damien Harris, Bo Scarbrough, B.J. Emmons and Joshua Jacobs at running back. When he was a true freshman, Derrick Henry saw playing time in the opener, but things didn’t really click for him until the bowl game at the end of the season.


Alabama 5-star early enrollee RB Najee Harris (Chris Kirschner/SEC Country)
8. Who contributes at outside linebacker?

Alabama has to replace Ryan Anderson and Tim Williams (in addition to Butkus Award winner Reuben Foster in the interior). While Evans obviously is a possibility for an outside spot, the players to watch are Christian Miller, Anfernee Jennings and Terrell Hall. All three earned playing time last season. Teammates have raved about Hall’s potential after he moved from defensive end, while true freshman Dylan Moses will aim to prove that the coaches can’t afford to not play him.


Alabama LB Terrell Hall (Chris Kirschner/SEC Country)
9. What does Alabama do at tight end?

The simple answer is that Hale Hentges will take over the every-down responsibilities with Miller Forristall the H-back as more of a receiving threat. However, Alabama has lost a lot of size at the position with O.J. Howard (who improved his blocking a lot last year) and Brandon Greene no longer on the roster. The coaches likely will try different offensive linemen at the tight end spot for short-yardage situations, but need to develop some depth at the position.


Alabama TE Hale Hentges (Chris Kirschner/SEC Country)
10. Who will return punts and kicks?

This may not get answered during the spring as it won’t be priority until the regular season approaches, but Alabama has a lot of options. Diggs and Xavian Marks will probably fill the roles as much as anyone else for now, however most of the freshmen will learn very quickly that the fastest way to get on the field and contribute is on special teams. Experimentation will be the priority this spring.


Potential kick returner Trevon Diggs (Chris Kirschner/SEC Country)

The post Alabama football: Sorting through questions before Crimson Tide’s spring practice begins appeared first on SEC Country.


Top Stories

Frank Martin praises wife, Anya, as ‘backbone’ after beating Duke

GREENVILLE, S.C. — As soon as Frank Martin got off the court Sunday night in Greenville, he ran to the front row of the South Carolina cheering section. There, he hugged his wife, Anya Martin, and his kids before he went down the line hugging fans. “The last five years have been hard,” Martin said. […] The post Frank Martin praises wife, Anya, as ‘backbone’ after beating Duke appeared first on SEC Country.
  • 4 days ago
  • 76

Wife of Wichita State coach Greg Marshall escorted out of arena after loss to Kentucky

Despite its 30 regular-season wins, Wichita State found itself seriously under-seeded as a No. 10 seed. As a result, it had to play No. 2 seed Kentucky in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. While the Shockers were nearly able to pull off the upset, they ultimately fell to the Wildcats 65-62 after having […] The post Wife of Wichita State coach Greg Marshall escorted out of arena after loss to Kentucky appeared first on SEC Country.
  • 5 days ago
  • 32

VCU AD takes parting shot at new LSU basketball coach Will Wade

LSU hired VCU’s Will Wade to be its new basketball coach Monday, and VCU athletic director Ed McLaughlin was very unhappy about the move. McLaughlin released a statement Tuesday claiming VCU fulfilled all of Wade’s wishes for the future of the program. However, the coach still chose to go to LSU despite all of that. “I always meet with coaches after the season […] The post VCU AD takes parting shot at new LSU basketball coach Will Wade appeared first on SEC Country.
  • 3 days ago
  • 29

2017 NCAA Gymnastics Championships: Schedule, regional matchups set for 36-team bracket

The best women’s gymnastics squads and individual performers in the country have earned the reward they’ve waited for all season: A chance to compete in the 2017 NCAA Gymnastics Championships. Eight SEC teams were among the 36 schools to qualify for regional competition on Monday: LSU, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, Auburn and Arkansas. All regional […] The post 2017 NCAA Gymnastics Championships: Schedule, regional matchups set for 36-team bracket appeared first on SEC Country.
  • 4 days ago
  • 25
exclusivetailor - Easy Branches
farawayyachtingcharters - Easy Branches
louiscollections - Easy Branches
botoxfillerveintheraphyinphuket - Easy Branches

Latest in Sport

2017 NCAA men’s swimming championships live updates: Results, times, watch online

The 2017 NCAA men’s swimming championships start up again on Friday, March 24, with the competition continuing in Indianapolis, Indiana. Texas, winner of the last two team titles, enters Friday in first place after a big Thursday in which it overtook N.C. State for the team lead. Below find information on how to follow and watch […] The post 2017 NCAA men’s swimming championships live updates: Results, times, watch online appeared first on SEC Country.
  • 23 minutes ago

Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ a daunting matchup for depleted Gators

NEW YORK CITY — As Wisconsin seniors Bronson Koenig and Nigel Hayes fielded question after question from reporters Thursday, about their considerable NCAA Tournament experience, about their social media practices and whatever else, redshirt sophomore forward Ethan Happ waited next to them. Eventually the moderator asked if anyone could please direct a question to Happ. “First off, […] The post Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ a daunting matchup for depleted Gators appeared first on SEC Country.
  • 23 minutes ago

LSU baseball: Times, TV channels and stream info for this weekend’s series versus Florida

The LSU baseball team is set to face its biggest road challenge of the season this weekend. No. 4 LSU (16-5, 3-0 SEC) travels to Gainesville, Fla. for a three-game series versus No. 12 Florida (13-8, 0-3 SEC) beginning tonight. As two of the top three rated teams in the SEC according to the USA […] The post LSU baseball: Times, TV channels and stream info for this weekend’s series versus Florida appeared first on SEC Country.
  • 23 minutes ago

Podcast: UGA freshman that ‘expects a lot’ already providing a lot

Georgia football fans undoubtedly enjoyed reading spring practice reports from DawgNation on Thursday with tales of the early performance of UGA freshman defensive back Deangelo Gibbs — a player whose college choice signaled one of the Bulldogs’ most significant recruiting wins for its 2017 class. I’ll talk about what Gibbs has done thus far, and […] The post Podcast: UGA freshman that ‘expects a lot’ already providing a lot appeared first on SEC Country.
  • 23 minutes ago

Alabama basketball: Avery Johnson announces two transfers from program

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama basketball is losing two players to transfers, Crimson Tide coach Avery Johnson announced Friday. Sophomore guard Brandon Austin and junior forward Nick King are leaving the program for other opportunities. Both players missed time this season due to injuries. Austin played in just six games during the 2016-17 season. He earned […] The post Alabama basketball: Avery Johnson announces two transfers from program appeared first on SEC Country.
  • 23 minutes ago

Podcast: Despite friendship, Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask have polar-opposite personalites

Welcome to Chomp Chat, SEC Country’s daily Florida podcast with Gators beat writer Zach Abolverdi and UF broadcaster Jeff Cardozo. Florida quarterbacks Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask met with the media this week and revealed their unique relationship off the field. Despite being friends, their personalities are not alike and they would lead the team in […] The post Podcast: Despite friendship, Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask have polar-opposite personalites appeared first on SEC Country.
  • 23 minutes ago

Oregon defensive coaches visit LSU to glean insight from Dave Aranda

For Oregon, a cross-country trip to LSU paid positive dividends. Ducks defensive coordinator Jim Leavitt and his staff headed down to Baton Rouge as they studied one of the nation’s stingiest defenses. With a new staff under head coach Willie Taggart, the visit was a good way to pick the mind of LSU defensive coordinator Dave Aranda as the […] The post Oregon defensive coaches visit LSU to glean insight from Dave Aranda appeared first on SEC Country.
  • 24 minutes ago

150 years of Canadian sport: 1860s and 1870s

On July 1, Canadians from coast to coast will celebrate the 150th anniversary of our great country. Every week until...
  • 29 minutes ago

Coaching rumors: San Antonio Spurs assistant Becky Hammon considering ‘lucrative’ offer to become Florida women’s basketball coach

It has long been suggested that Becky Hammon could become the first female head coach in the NBA. But before she can accomplish that, she may end up being the next Florida women’s basketball head coach. Hammon, who is a WNBA legend and currently a San Antonio Spurs assisstant coach, is mulling over a ‘lucrative’ […] The post Coaching rumors: San Antonio Spurs assistant Becky Hammon considering ‘lucrative’ offer to become Florida women’s basketball coach appeared first on SEC Country.
  • 1 hour ago

South Carolina football: Building depth at Buck, Jake Bentley talks tempo and the kicking competition

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Daniel Fennell doesn’t have to look very far to find out why he played in only six games for South Carolina as a redshirt freshman. Coming out of spring practice a year ago, Fennell was listed atop the Gamecocks’ depth chart at the Buck position. Snaps were few and far between once the […] The post South Carolina football: Building depth at Buck, Jake Bentley talks tempo and the kicking competition appeared first on SEC Country.
  • 1 hour ago

Another Georgia defensive player poised for breakout year

ATHENS — There’s a picture of Georgia’s defensive linemen, taken during the black jersey game last year, and Jonathan Ledbetter is right in the middle, his left pinky finger in his mouth as he snarls at the camera. Ledbetter made it the main picture on his Twitter profile. If you’re looking for symbolism, you could […] The post Another Georgia defensive player poised for breakout year appeared first on SEC Country.
  • 1 hour ago

Report: Cleveland Browns conduct private workout with Myles Garrett

It’s been assumed that former Texas A&M standout Myles Garrett would be selected with the No. 1 pick in this year’s NFL Draft, and it’s becoming more apparent that will be the case. According to Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com and The Plain Dealer, the Cleveland Browns, who own the top pick in next month’s […] The post Report: Cleveland Browns conduct private workout with Myles Garrett appeared first on SEC Country.
  • 1 hour ago