Alabama Football: 5 Guys Who Need a Great Spring Performance
Spring practices are just around the corner, and Alabama's spring game is slated for April 14. The Crimson Tide defense is the biggest concern for Tide fans as the Michigan game approaches.
With the unbelievable amount of talent at the Capstone, filling the holes left by players turning pro should not be an issue. The question is whether the coaches can develop the talent into skill fast enough to contend for a repeat title, or at least a BCS Bowl berth.
All Tider's eyes will be on the spring game.
Here are five men that will garner a little more attention than the others on the field. They are projected as starters, but if their focus isn't what it should be, the kids behind them could outwork them for their slots on the depth chart.
Deion Belue, DB
The DB position will be heavily scrutinized from day one. Belue is one of two JUCO transfers who will be expected to play at a higher level of skill than others around them.
Belue has already gotten in-game experience at the collegiate level. Though it wasn't in the SEC, it wasn't in high school, either.
He will need to be an interim leader until the real captain of the defense asserts his authority. Belue will be part of the questionable secondary.
He will need a great spring performance to prove to the staff that they made the right call signing him.
Travell Dixon, DB
Dixon is the other JUCO transfer and will also be studied a little harder than the others. On a defense marked by inexperience, Saban will count on Dixon (and Belue) to perform in a way that requires little correction.
Dixon should be a valuable asset to the Tide, and his chance to prove that is quickly becoming a reality. Spring practice will be his chance to assert himself as a lockdown corner.
The staff has a load of talent to coach into starting form. If either of the JUCO transfers don't live up to expectations, 'Bama's recruiting class is full of defenders who could jockey into the starting spots.
If that happens, look for an upset Saban who would feel that he wasted scholarships in the JUCO ranks this season.
Jeremy Shelley, K
Shelley stepped up in the BCS title game and scored all of the Tide's points until the fourth quarter.
Adam Griffith is coming to town and will likely see kickoff and punt duties immediately. If Shelley doesn't have a stellar performance in the spring, look for Griffith to be out on field goals as well.
Griffith is a huge talent, and Tiders can't wait to see what he can do. Shelley needs to follow his BCS performance with a solid spring.
Shelley doesn't belong on the bench, but spring practice is where he will prove he belongs on the field.
Duron Carter, WR
Carter has been anxiously awaiting eligibility for a year now, and the fans have been just as anxious.
Carter is in the wonderful predicament of being the "default" leader of what could be the Tide's best receiving corps ever.
Of course, with all the talent coming to the Capstone, the WR position is the most volatile for now. Any one of the WR recruits could earn a starting gig. Chris Black, Amari Cooper and Eddie Williams are expected to gun for some real playing time.
If Duron Carter doesn't bring his A-game to spring practice, he could be in for a rude awakening when the depth chart is released for the Michigan game.
A.J. McCarron, QB
McCarron is the starter for the Crimson Tide.
No one is arguing that he has earned the spot. In an earlier article, I pointed out the fact that any spot on the field is up for grabs at all times. That's the way it is in the house of Saban.
McCarron has a ton of intangibles that give him a choke-hold on the starting job.
However, if he shows up to practice and plays like he doesn't have to earn it on every snap, he could lose the position to Sims.
McCarron has a strong work ethic and an infectious energy about him. I would be astounded if McCarron did something to lose the starting job.
That said, he still has to have a great spring. Sims isn't just lying around waiting for 2014.