Alabama Football: Crimson Tide Secondary Set to Be Strong Yet Again

Barrett Sallee@BarrettSalleeSEC Football Lead WriterAugust 30, 2012

Alabama S Robert Lester
Alabama S Robert LesterJoe Robbins/Getty Images

It's been talked about ad nauseam for the entire offseason, but in case you haven't heard, Alabama has some holes to fill on the defensive side of the football.

The Crimson Tide secondary was particularly hit hard, with the departures of cornerbacks Dre Kirkpatrick and DeQuan Menzie as well as safety Mark Barron.

I hate the cliche that Alabama "doesn't rebuild, it reloads," but it's true.

Senior safety Robert Lester is the only holdover from last year's starting group, and he is joined by cornerbacks Dee Milliner and Deion Belue and free safeties Vinnie Sunseri and Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix.

Milliner is no stranger to playing time. The junior started 11 games as a freshman in 2010 and served as the starting nickelback when Alabama went with five defensive backs last season.

There's not a whole lot of concern with Milliner. He hasn't been the No. 1 cornerback before, but he certainly has enough experience to minimize the impact of that transition.

On the other side, junior college transfer Deion Belue earned a starting job with his fine play this spring and summer, and impressed Milliner in the process.

"He made it a thing he does all the time," Milliner told "He's progressed very well. He got thrown into the fire with the plays and everything, but he progressively learned the plays and has been a great competitor out there on the field."

Belue was the No. 8 junior college prospect in the country according to last season and signed with Alabama out of high school. He's a solid cover cornerback that boasts 4.4 speed and flocks to the football.

Sunseri and Clinton-Dix will split time at free safety, and both will play in nickel situations. Sunseri was impressive in a reserve role behind Barron last season and on special teams as a freshman, and Clinton-Dix was the seventh-best player in the country in 2011 according to the Composite.

With so much talent across the board, it won't take a lot of time for Alabama's secondary to come together. Head coach Nick Saban is known for instilling discipline on defense, and that has been exaggerated with games against quarterbacks Denard Robinson and Tyler Wilson in the not-too-distant future.

With games against Michigan and Arkansas in the first three weeks, the Tide defense will be tested early. If it can weather the early storm, this group has the potential to be one of the best secondaries in the country.