Alabama Football: Top 5 Players Who Have the Most to Gain from A-Day Game
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For Alabama fans, their first chance to take a sneak peek at what’s in store for the 2012 season comes in this weekend’s annual A-Day scrimmage.
Several players are jockeying for playing time and an opportunity to make a name for themselves while trying to help the Crimson Tide claim its third national championship in four years.
The picture will become clearer after A-Day, but until then, players have a few practices left to make a lasting impression on the coaching staff—and a strong performance in front of the crowd in Bryant-Denny Stadium on Saturday would go a long way in making a strong case.
Here are the top five players who have the most to gain from A-Day.
Along with fellow JUCO transfer and corner Travell Dixon, Belue was brought in by Saban with hopes of battling for the spots left vacant with the departures of Dre Kirkpatrick and De’Quan Menzie.
Considering how defensive coordinator Kirby Smart likes to mix in nickel coverages, finding a pair of capable corners to complement likely starter Dee Milliner is paramount for the Crimson Tide this spring.
Belue has already drawn praise from Saban earlier in the spring, and flashed his big play ability by returning an interception 97 yards for a touchdown in Alabama’s first spring scrimmage.
If he can keep his strong play up through Saturday, look for him find a prominent role in the Crimson Tide secondary this fall.
Hubbard is one of the new faces trying to claim Courtney Upshaw's Jack LB spot this spring
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The race to fill Courtney Upshaw’s sizable shoes is still raging on between Hubbard and fellow sophomore Xzavier Dickson and several others for the Jack linebacker position.
While both will likely see plenty of action this fall, coaches and fans are waiting for someone to emerge—and judging by the reactions of fans in particular, most expected it to be Hubbard.
A-Day would be a perfect chance for Hubbard to announce himself to the legions of supporters clad in Crimson, but the man he’s trying to replace is already a believer.
“He’s going to be a dominant player here, guarantee it,” Upshaw said in an interview with TuscaloosaNews.com’s Tommy Deas. “Explosive, speed, power—everything. Little skinny guy, but he’s got a whole lot of power.”
The former 5-star recruit known as “Ha-Ha” is in a dogfight with fellow sophomore safety Vinnie Sunseri for Mark Barron’s strong safety spot.
Of the two, Sunseri garnered more minutes as safety, gaining valuable minutes against Auburn after Will Lowery suffered an injury.
Clinton-Dix, a 6’1”, 203-pound Orlando native, was one of the cornerstones of Alabama’s 2011 class, and he recorded 11 tackles last season mostly on special teams.
However, A-Day will provide him an opportunity to show how much he has progressed since arriving on campus last summer.
Jones (No.22) is having a strong spring thus far in the race to claim one of the starting WR spots
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The wide receiver group is a unit that most fans have high hopes for—despite the loss of both starters from last season.
While several new faces have garnered the most attention, Jones has quietly enjoyed a solid spring—nabbing seven catches for 83 yards in Alabama’s first spring scrimmage and following it up with a five-catch, 61-yard and two-touchdown performance in the second scrimmage last Friday.
Only a sophomore, Jones could cement his place in the rotation if he can upstage veterans Kenny Bell, Kevin Norwood and fellow sophomore DeAndrew White in the final scrimmage inside Bryant-Denny Stadium.
Jones is also a candidate to return kicks, a role he took over for Marquis Maze last season after his injury in the BCS National Championship Game.
Clinton-Dix’s high school teammate was on his way to busting out before tearing his ACL during a workout last summer.
With projected starter Eddie Lacy nursing an injury during spring practice, the door is open for a running back to step up and make a move for playing time in the fall.
Hart is in a battle with Jalston Fowler and 5-star freshman T.J. Yeldon for carries, but Hart can also be used in the passing game more—he possesses the speed and hands to play in the slot if called upon.
On a team looking searching for play makers, Hart’s dynamic ability in the open field could help him separate from his challengers.