Three weeks into spring practice, Nick Saban is still searching for more players to step up their intensity in preparation for the 2013 season.
With Alabama’s annual A-Day spring game rapidly approaching, Crimson Tide players are ramping up the
intensity with precious few opportunities left to make an impression on the coaching staff.
The team’s second scrimmage will take place on Saturday, with some players looking to build on solid starts to the spring and others looking to climb their way back up the depth chart.
Which players are trending upward, and which guys are going in the opposite direction?
Find out in this week’s edition of Alabama’s spring practice stock report.
The offensive line is one of the focal points of the spring session for Tide coaches and supporters.
After crossing the spring midway point, one of the surprises to this point has been Austin Shepherd holding off talented JUCO transfer Leon Brown for the right tackle job.
As Gribble noted, Shepherd was lined up with the starting group in Monday’s practice.
While nothing is set in stone at this point, Shepherd has taken advantage of his opportunity and appears to have a lead on the job heading into the A-Day game.
Aside from Shepherd, Arie Kouandjio—who was mentioned as riser in last week’s report—is another player that has made a statement with his play thus far.
Entering the spring, the left guard job was presumed to be a duel between Kouandjio and Chad Lindsay.
Lindsay has seen second-unit reps at guard and behind Ryan Kelly at center.
However, for a player figuring to compete for a starting role, the way the spring has gone to date has to be disappointing for Lindsay.
Of the handful of defensive linemen out of the 2012 recruiting class that redshirted, Dalvin Tomlinson has been the first to jump out during the spring.
As ESPN’s Alex Scarborough noted, Tomlinson has already impressed Saban and his fellow teammates with his strength and quickness.
The pass rush is an area of concern entering the season for the Tide defense, but Tomlinson is a young player oozing with potential in that department.
Assuming that he continues to develop, Tomlinson figures to be a vital part of the defensive end rotation this season.
Tomlinson may be the underclassman at defensive end making the most noise. But before spring ball began, LaMichael Fanning was a player that was expected to step up and assume that role.
Fanning is still in the mix at defensive end, but he’s still holding a backup spot according to Brett
Hudson of the Daily Bama Blog.
For a player blessed with an imposing physique (6’7”, 298 pounds), Fanning has been a bit of an enigma up to this point in his career.
Fanning still has some work to do next and in the period leading up to fall in order to realize his enormous potential.
As one of a handful of Tide players coming off a season-ending injury in 2012, this spring is a critical one for receiver DeAndrew White.
But if anyone was expecting the junior to be rusty, his performance in the team’s first scrimmage went a long way in dispelling those thoughts.
White—who was ahead of freshman phenom Amari Cooper on the depth chart before tearing his ACL against Ole Miss—exploded for a seven-catch, 132-yard outburst in his first meaningful action since suffering the injury (h/t Andrew Gribble, AL.com).
Even though White is wearing a black no-contact jersey in the scrimmage, his performance served as a notice of his intention to be an integral part of the receiver rotation this fall.
While White has made a smooth transition back into the offense, Dee Hart has bounced around from corner at the beginning of the spring and back to his natural position of running back, according to Gribble.
It’s hard to envision Hart jumping back into the mix of the Tide’s loaded backfield with the likes of T.J. Yeldon, Kenyan Drake and Derrick Henry earning the lion’s share of work in the first scrimmage (h/t rolltide.com).
Hart’s versatility out of the backfield and his ability to return kicks will have to be enough for him to earn a role on the field this fall. But unlike White, the road to getting back onto the field appears to have a few more bumps in the road.