Two weeks into spring practice, Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide still have plenty of room for improvement over the next two weeks.
After taking a week off to enjoy spring break, the Alabama Crimson Tide returned to the field to resume the second week of spring practices.
With that backdrop in mind, players fighting for position on the depth chart have a long way to go in showing the coaching staff that they can be counted upon in the fall.
However, a few players have emerged through two weeks of practice while a few others are trending in the opposite direction.
Which players fall on both sides of that equation?
Find out in this stock report on the Tide’s second week of spring practice.
The older brother of starting left tackle Cyrus Kouandjio, Arie Kouandjio has entered the mix to fill Chance Warmack’s shoes at left guard.
Per Chris Walsh of BamaOnline (subscription required), Arie will be the first option at that spot when the Tide scrimmages this weekend.
It’s a significant step for Arie to make a move at a position that will be heavily contested until the fall arrives.
The elder Kouandjio has been riddled with injuries throughout his college career, but now that he’s healthy, he appears to making a strong push towards locking down one of the vacancies.
Brown came to Tuscaloosa in January with the intention of becoming the next JUCO product recruited by Saban to become an instant contributor by taking over the right tackle spot vacated by D.J. Fluker.
While he still has plenty of time to make good on that theory, veteran Austin Shepherd is making a case to win the job over Brown.
Saban has made a point to mention that he will experiment with his line throughout the spring in order to find the best five players up front.
Brown certainly has a chance to be one of those five players, but he is a player that has to show solid improvement between now and the A-Day game.
With the graduation of dependable tight ends Michael Williams and Kelly Johnson, the competition at the tight end spot is one of the spring’s biggest mysteries.
Five-star recruit and early enrollee O.J. Howard has wasted little time jumping into the mix, and making a favorable impression on his teammates in the process.
“He’s one of those hard workers,” linebacker C.J. Mosley said. “He’s doing what he can to try to find a spot on the team. He’s one of the players we’re going to have to look out for in Saturday’s scrimmage.”
With tight end and H-back being a true open competition, Howard’s combination of pure talent and a strong work ethic bodes well for his chances to have a role in his freshman season.
With Howard and junior Brian Vogler representing a pair of tight ends who have stepped up and seized the opportunity, sophomore Kurt Freitag is currently running third team at H-back according to Brett
Hudson of The Daily Bama Blog.
Howard and veteran Harrison Jones are ahead of Freitag on the depth chart, and that makes the next two weeks vital for the sophomore if he hopes to claw his way back into the rotation.
It’s still too early to write anyone off in a competition that remains wide open, but at this point, Freitag appears to be on the outside looking in amongst the Tide’s tight end unit.
At this point a year ago, the argument could be made that freshmen wideouts Amari Cooper and Chris Black were on equal footing.
Black’s freshman season was cut short with a shoulder injury in fall camp while Cooper went on to become one of the SEC’s top pass-catchers as a freshman.
But Black is back healthy, and his presence has to be part of the reason why Nick Saban has tinkered with moving 2012 starter Christion Jones to the secondary.
Whether or not Jones sticks on defense is debatable, but regardless, Black is making a case to become a pivotal part of the receiver rotation in 2013.
With projected starting corner John Fulton recovering from offseason toe surgery, sophomore corners Bradley Sylve and Jabriel Washington entered spring with a golden opportunity to seize the attention of the coaching staff in hopes of earning increased reps moving forward.
Instead, both players have been upstaged by a trio of offensive players—former running back Dee Hart and receivers Christion Jones and Cyrus Jones—that moved over to defense at the beginning of spring ball.
In particular, Cyrus Jones appears to have made a move and placed himself in a good position entering the Tide’s first scrimmage on Saturday according to Chris Walsh of BamaOnline (subscription required).
Both Sylve and Washington are players who need to show something over the last two weeks if they hope to find a role in the secondary heading into the season.
This is normally the time of year when there’s one player on Alabama’s roster who people expect to bust loose. In most cases, it’s a sophomore or a junior who has showed promise as a backup, but will be counted on to make the leap into becoming a starter.
This year, that guy appears to be rising junior defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan. With the departure
of defensive ends Damion Square and Quinton Dial, Saban and defensive coordinator need someone to plug in opposite senior Ed Stinson on the edges of the Tide’s three man front.
Pagan has shown flashes in a reserve role in the last two seasons, but thus far, he looks like he is taking advantage of the opportunity to play a larger role in the Tide’s defense according to Andrew Gribble of AL.com.
Similar to outside linebacker Adrian Hubbard at this point a year ago, Pagan is a player that is creating a buzz heading into the final weeks of practices for the Tide in the spring.