The foundation of the Alabama football program’s recent run of success has been on the defensive side of the ball, and Nick Saban should field another loaded unit capable of fueling another title run in 2013.
The biggest losses will be felt up front, with three of the top six defensive linemen playing their last game in next week’s BCS National Championship Game against Notre Dame.
Veterans such as safety Robert Lester and linebacker Nico Johnson are significant contributors that will be missed, but the linebacker and secondary units appear to be stacked. Assuming All-American corner Dee Milliner turns pro, that position will be the biggest area of concern for Saban and defensive coordinator Kirby Smart in the spring.
The 2013 defensive unit got a huge boost with the announcement that Butkus Award finalist C.J. Mosley would return for his senior season (h/t Chris Low and Alex Scarborough, ESPN).
This year’s defense was personified by talented young players enduring some growing pains, which mirrors some of the tribulations experienced in the 2010 season—albeit to a lesser degree considering they will line up next week with a chance to repeat as national champions.
Next year, sophomores like Adrian Hubbard, Xzavier Dickson and Trey DePriest at linebacker, plus safeties Vinnie Sunseri and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, will all be juniors primed to take the next step in becoming a dominant unit.
Which backups from this season could be in line to start in 2013, and which positions could see a host of talented newcomers make a jump into the two-deep?
Find out as we take an early look the potential changes on defense for Alabama, and project the Tide’s 2013 depth chart on defense.
*Class distinction is reflected to show class as of next season.