Alabama Football: 2012's Depth Chart Underdogs
The Crimson Tide are brimming with talent each and every year under Nick Saban. The depth chart is the bee's knees, top to bottom, but it's those highly talented guys on the bottom that never get any recognition. I intend to give them just that.
For the second year in a row I'll give a look at some guys on the Tide's roster that have excellent talent and potential that will produce well for the Tide but will likely have to do so without a starting role.
But at Alabama, that's okay. The second- and third-stringers get nearly as much playing time as the starters, they just don't get as much spotlight.
These are the guys that only Alabama fans will know much about, as the folks on ESPN will rarely talk about them due to the shadows the bigger name players will cast over them.
Here's a look for the fans at these awesome players. Keep an eye out for them in 2012.
Defensive End, 6'4", 279 lbs., Sophomore
Ed Stinson is a player that devoted Alabama fans know about, but he has yet to win a starting role.
He's a high-potential player that contributed heavily in 2011, but looks to play second fiddle again in 2012.
Stinson was used sparingly in 2010, and his only "highlight" reel was as a receiver on a failed fourth-down conversion when he dropped the pass.
2011 was a different story. He racked up 19 total tackles, nine solo and five for losses, and one sack in relief duty and on special teams.
He has a lot of potential as a pass-rusher and is about as lean as they come.
In 2012 he will look to earn a true backup role and will have significantly more playing time than he did last season.
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Quarterback, 6'0", 212 lbs., Sophomore
Blake Sims has had some of the worst fortune of all Alabama players in the past year. Ever since he arrived on campus the general consensus has been that he can "do it all."
Therein lies the problem. With so many options, the coaches had a lot of difficulty figuring out just what to do with him.
They seemed to toy around most with the idea of playing him at running back, and his potential as a quarterback became an afterthought, especially with an almost complete lack of Wildcat formations in 2011.
2012 will be a different story. The Tide are stacked at running back, but the departure of Phillip Sims as the backup QB has left quite a void in the offensive depth chart.
Sims isn't the pure pocket passer that fellow backup Phillip Ely is, but the options available with Sims are limitless, in or out of the pocket.
Finally, the coaches will have the perfect place for Sims, and he'll make an impact.
And if fortune frowns upon the Tide, Sims may have to step up and be the Tide's starting quarterback in place of A.J. McCarron.
Center, 6'3", 305 lbs., Junior
Kellen Williams arrived at the Capstone just in time to redshirt for the 2009 championship season, and he will be a fourth-year junior in 2012.
The future at the center position on the offensive line was a mystery while William Vlachos started there for three straight years, two of which culminated in national championships.
The battle seemed to be between Williams and Chad Lindsay. I once favored Lindsay to become the future center, but after a while I began leaning towards Williams.
It looked like Williams was going to get his shot in 2012, but Barrett Jones decided to return for his senior year instead of becoming a first-round NFL draft pick.
With experience and talent overflowing at the other four offensive line positions, Jones moved to center.
Williams will get some opportunity as Jones' backup this year, I'm certain.
And he'll need it in 2013, for in that season the Tide will likely be replacing three starters on the line.
Middle Linebacker, 6'3", 236 lbs., Junior
Besides Phillip Sims, Tana Patrick is the best example of the "right place, wrong time" scenario.
Patrick is a former 4-star linebacker and was touted as one of the best in the nation in the recruiting class of 2009.
He redshirted that season and has yet to see any significant playing time, despite his talent. With the supreme quality of the Tide's linebacker corps in recent years it's easy to see why.
In 2012, Patrick will look to maintain his role as a backup, but with a lot more playing time. Expect him to greatly exceed his career total 11 tackles.
Patrick would be a starter at just about any other school in the nation, but he's dedicated to playing for the Tide.
Wide Receiver, 6'3", 198 lbs., Sophomore
Marvin Shinn is one of my favorite players from the Tide's 2011 recruiting class as a 4-star rated receiver.
He is a tall, lanky receiver who runs under a 4.5 40-yard dash, but he also plays with the quickness and lateral movement of a short slot receiver.
With Marquis Maze and Darius Hanks as the clear starters (who both more than earned the role, despite being less talented than most of the guys on the bench) and a slew of eager young receivers in waiting, Shinn redshirted in 2011.
He will see the field in 2012, but the depth at wide receiver is absolutely ridiculous this year.
With guys like Christion Jones, DeAndrew White, Kevin Norwood, Kenny Bell, Chris Black and Amari Cooper ready and willing to haul in passes it will be tough for Shinn to get significant playing time.
Shinn should prove to be too big of a target to pass up at some point in the season, and with his size and elusiveness he's sure to make the most of whatever opportunities he's given.
When Shinn gets his shot, the Alabama faithful will not be disappointed.