One of the main story-lines of Alabama’s spring practice was supposed to be about how the Crimson Tide would replace their heavy losses at the skill positions on offense—while adjusting to new offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier.
With the Crimson Tide set to begin workouts on Friday, that picture got a little cloudier with the news that several players will miss all of spring practice for various reasons.
The biggest loss for Nick Saban’s team appears to be junior running back Eddie Lacy, who had surgery in the offseason on an injured toe and will spend the spring recovering from the procedure.
Lacy is an experienced player that will likely be able to catch up by fall without missing a beat, but there is always a concern for a player to miss valuable time in the spring that will be counted on heavily this fall.
The upcoming practices just got a little more meaningful for the rest of the running backs—particularly junior Jalston Fowler and freshmen Demetrius Hart and T.J. Yeldon.
Fowler has averaged over seven yards per carry while rushing for 496 yards and five touchdowns in limited action during his first two years in Tuscaloosa.
Hart is recovering from a torn ACL suffered last summer, but returned to practice and was running by late November.
Yeldon—who was one of the crown jewels of the 2012 recruiting class—enrolled early and now has a great opportunity to push for snaps in the fall.
Quarterback A.J. McCarron will be missing a trio of wide receivers—juniors Duron Carter and Michael Bowman, and sophomore Ronald Carswell—due to suspensions.
Carter is the biggest name that will jump out to Crimson Tide fans, who have been patiently waiting for what seems like an eternity to see the son of former Vikings all-pro receiver Cris Carter.
Time may be running out on the former JUCO transfer, who missed all of last season due to being academically ineligible.
Carswell (zero career catches) and Bowman (one career catch) were not expected to be big contributors, but their absence clears the way for players like redshirt freshmen Marvin Shinn and Danny Woodson, Jr., as well as true freshmen Chris Black and Amari Cooper to gain valuable reps over the next month.
Absorbing losses like these are always a challenge, even for a team with a depth chart as loaded as Alabama’s is.
However, these absences will create opportunities for other players to step up and contribute when their team is counting on them—which can help build quality depth for the upcoming season.