Alabama Football: 12 Players We Are Dying to See in 2012
Alabama has always had a lot of talent under Nick Saban, but the 2012 team just might be the best he has ever had. Of that talent, there are a few special players that we, as Alabama fans, just cannot wait another minute to see in action.
It will be a joy and wonder to behold what the team does in 2012, but these 12 specific players have us eagerly awaiting fall.
Here are those 12 players and why we want to see them in action.
Cornerback, 6'1", 170 lbs.
After Deion Belue's 97-yard interception returned for a touchdown in the spring game, fans have been eager to see what he can do in game time.
He is a shifty, electric playmaker when the ball is in his hands like LSU's Tyrann Mathieu, but unlike Mathieu, he has the height to allow him to perform well in coverage.
He's also a hell of a lost faster.
There are questions about how well his light frame can handle the rigors of the SEC, but that is the only downside to Belue, and it's also the most easily corrected.
You can add weight with a bit of dedication, but you can't add talent and speed.
As a junior college transfer, Belue already has the post-high school experience needed, and now, it's time to produce.
Don't be surprised to see Belue become the Tide's best defensive playmaker in 2012, even if he is used in dime-and-nickel packages.
Linebacker, 6'2", 242 lbs.
Trey DePriest is Alabama's next great middle linebacker, and that's a fact.
He won't be expected to be much of a leader in 2012 due to his youth and inexperience (and others more seasoned), but he will be expected to be a devastating defender.
As a true freshman, he already had an SEC-ready body, and he's even bigger and stronger now.
He has a shot at winning a starting role, but with veterans Nico Johnson and C.J. Mosley at inside linebacker, he may have to play in a rotation.
Either way, he will be on the field a lot and a lot of opponents will be on the turf...face-first, just like LSU's Jordan Jefferson here.
Jack Linebacker, 6'6", 237 lbs.
Adrian Hubbard had a great spring and really showed the fans and his coaches just how effective he can be at getting to the quarterback.
He's a bit light for a true Alabama Jack linebacker, but his length and speed more than make up for his inability to impose his will on offensive linemen.
The sheer length of his arms makes him dangerous at range, and opposing quarterbacks are going to need a really big pocket to stay away from Hubbard.
Alabama loves its blitzing linebackers, and Hubbard looks to be yet another great one.
Center, 6'5", 311 lbs.
Barrett Jones has been a star for the Crimson Tide going on four years now. From his promising true freshman year cut short by injury (medical redshirt) to his Outland Trophy in 2011, Barrett Jones has been a crimson beast.
Opposing defenses sure are sick of Jones, but not Tide fans. No sir.
Everyone is perfectly familiar with Jones, so why are we so excited to see him in 2012?
Because he's moving to center, of course!
He will be the Tide's first new starting center since their first title under Nick Saban. William Vlachos had a death grip on the position for the past three years.
Since 2009, the Tide has always loved to run behind Jones, but that was a bit more difficult in 2011 when he played left tackle.
Now, he'll be right in the middle of the offensive line, exactly where Alabama prefers to run the ball.
With Jones at center, the team is going to have a blast shoving running backs down the opposition's throats.
Tight End, 6'4", 248 lbs.
Harrison Jones is Barrett's little brother, but compared to everyone else, he isn't exactly little.
Take Barrett Jones, strip away about 50 lbs. of fat and you have Harrison Jones.
He is about as ideally built as an all-around tight end gets.
He's big enough to take on blockers but has the speed, size, and hands to be deadly in the passing game.
And that is what fans are (or should be) excited about.
Jones will likely be utilized heavily in the passing game, and to say that he will haul in over 400 receiving yards in 2012 is not a stretch at all. That would be a tight end first at Alabama under Nick Saban.
Left Tackle, 6'6", 322 lbs.
I absolutely love this photo of Cyrus Kouandjio (71) standing next to the nation's best offensive lineman, Barrett Jones.
Kouandjio simply makes Jones look like a guy that spent too much time on the couch who couldn't stop once he popped, and we all know that couldn't be further from the truth.
What's scarier is that Kouandjio looked like this as a senior in high school.
Fans got a taste of Kouandjio as a backup in 2011 before his season ended with a knee injury, but in 2012, he will be the starting left tackle.
As great as Jones is and was, the sky is literally the limit for Kouandjio.
Would-be pass-rushers do not look forward to battling Kouandjio, but that is exactly why fans are dying to see him in action.
If he stays healthy this year, national awards are nearly certain. Wearing an athletic supporter will decrease the chances of getting sidelined.
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images
Running Back, 6'0", 220 lbs.
Eddie Lacy's 2010 days of fumblitis are now a distant memory.
Before suffering from a horrible turf toe in 2011, Lacy showed his potential and put up the best yards-per-carry on the team with 7.09 (down from his team leading 7.25 in 2010).
If Lacy can stay healthy in 2012, he just might be the best running back Alabama has had since Nick Saban arrived.
Too soon? Nope!
Lacy has incredible bulk and can muscle his way through tackles, but that's only a fallback option. He prefers to spin past defenders, and I daresay no one in the nation does it as well as he does.
If football doesn't work out for Lacy, he could make a living as a ballerina with the way he pirouettes.
Lacy has spent two seasons as a backup and looked fantastic the entire way. He will be the workhorse in 2012, and fans are eager to see what he can do as the primary rock-toter.
Sixteen-hundred yards is almost a guarantee for Lacy in 2012, especially with his offensive line. Book it.
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Quarterback, 6'4", 205 lbs.
Fans could not wait to see what A.J. McCarron could do in 2011, but that eagerness was mixed with a lot of trepidation.
Concerns about McCarron flew out the window (along with Phillip Sims) when he was the MVP of the national championship en route to the Tide's second title in three years.
He achieved his accolades in 2011 as a rookie red-shirt sophomore with an average receiving corps.
In 2012, he will be a seasoned, national champion quarterback with an incredible array of deadly targets.
He's not Joe Montana (yet?), but if you aren't eager to see him next season, then you aren't an Alabama fan.
Entire Wide Receiver Squad
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Kenny Bell, Kevin Norwood, DeAndrew White, Amari Cooper, Chris Black, Christion Jones, Marvinn Shinn and Eddie Williams (if he plays wideout) are all names fans and critics alike should get used to.
There's no Julio Jones in this group of names, but players are all nearly as good.
Alabama will field a receiver-by-committee unit in 2012, which is perfect for A.J. McCarron and the way he loves to spread the ball around.
Many of them will be getting their first taste of significant playing time, but they will stun defenders.
What's scarier is that all of them will be returning in 2013 unless the NFL or unforeseen circumstances interrupt their eligibility.
This is, without question, Alabama's best receiver squad under Nick Saban.
Safety, 6'1", 217 lbs.
Vinnie Sunseri has convinced me that he has the best nose for the ball on the entire team.
He makes big plays on defense and is a true ball-hawk.
Sunseri played with such ferocity on special teams in 2011 that he launched himself to the top of the depth chart (behind incumbent starters, of course).
Whether he plays in dime and nickel packages or as a starter, Sunseri is going to make waves.
Only time will tell if he will earn a starting spot and prove his worth as an every-down safety, but for now, his future is so bright he's gotta wear shades.
Nose Tackle, 6'4", 319 lbs.
The tattooed monster out of Australia was an exciting addition to the Tide in 2011. He was big, muscular and lean.
He played his role as a defensive end and clobbered offensive linemen.
Now, he moves to the most important position in the Tide's defense: nose guard.
Williams just might be the leanest 300-pound nose tackle in the nation, which means every inch of his frame is pure power.
Alabama will finally have a big ugly in the middle that has his named called by announcers, something it hasn't had since Terrance Cody left the Tide at the end of the 2009 season.
His size, athleticism and motor make him the ideal nose tackle for the Tide.
There are no flaws in Williams' game, and he is perfectly built for every task he will be needed to perform.
Kicker, 5'11", 175 lbs.
The previous 11 players were simply listed in alphabetical order, but not this guy.
Adam Griffith is supposed to be the next Lou Groza, and though that is a bit of a stretch, I wouldn't be surprised to see him perform at that level and win the award some day.
After Alabama's kicking woes in 2011, Griffith was the most welcome addition of the 2012 recruiting class.
Griffith has an incredible combination of accuracy and leg strength, even with his slender frame.
Alabama's kicking problems were most evident in the first matchup with LSU, where it missed three field goals and had one blocked, but the lack of touchbacks was the factor that quietly plagued the Tide all season long.
Take out your right hand and count your fingers and thumb. That's how many touchdbacks the Tide had in 2011. That ranked 92nd in the nation and dead last in the SEC.
Can Griffith be the guy to finally throw the Tide defense a bone and rack up a few touchbacks?
If Griffith lives up to his potential, he just might become the next "Polish Cannon." He was born in Poland, too!
For more on Griffith, check out this older article, "Adam Griffith's Amazing Story."