Alabama Football: Highlighting Crimson Tide's Biggest Playmakers in 2013
The two-time defending national champion Alabama Crimson Tide enter the 2013 college football season as the top-ranked program and the team to beat.
The only fair question: Can anyone dethrone them?
We'll have to wait to find out. But for now, one thing is for sure. The Crimson Tide will be in the BCS mix all season long thanks to some superb coaching and a plethora of elite talent on both sides of the ball.
Here we'll take a closer look at Alabama's biggest playmakers heading into the 2013 season.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S
While stud cornerback Dee Milliner (now with the New York Jets) received most of the attention in Alabama's secondary a season ago, junior safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is destined to dominate the spotlight in 2013.
Clinton-Dix is arguably the Crimson Tide's top playmaker on defense. After all, he recorded a team-best five interceptions last season and also forced a fumble.
In addition to having a soft pair of hands and great instincts, the 6'1", 210-pound safety is a solid tackler (37 total tackles in 2012) in the open field. With Clinton-Dix having earned some valuable experience in Kirby Smart's defense a year ago—even picking off a pass in the BCS National Championship Game—look for the Orlando native to thrive as the team's most dangerous defensive playmaker in 2013.
Amari Cooper, WR
Quarterback A.J. McCarron has a favorite target in the Alabama passing game, and his name is Amari Cooper.
The 6'1" Miami native dominated as a freshman a season ago, catching twice as many passes as any other Crimson Tide receiver in 2012. Cooper would finish the year with 59 receptions for 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns.
The bad news for Alabama's opponents in 2013: Cooper is only going to be better as a sophomore having had more time to add speed and strength and also adapt to the college game.
Keep in mind that Cooper had five 100-plus-yard receiving games as a freshman, catching six balls for 105 yards and two touchdowns in his most recent outing against Notre Dame in last January's title game.
T.J. Yeldon, RB
Despite running behind Eddie Lacy as a freshman last season, T.J. Yeldon managed to surpass the 1,000-yard rushing mark, racking up more than 1,100 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground to go along with 131 yards and a score through the air.
Yeldon will have his work cut out for him in his sophomore season, though, with Alabama losing so much talent up front on the offensive line. But still, his combination of speed, strength and vision have already made him a star in the Tide's offense, so much so that OutkicktheCoverage.com's Clay Travis asked the following question on Twitter:
TJ Yeldon's on the cover of the newest Sports Illustrated. Can he be better than Ingram or Richardson? pic.twitter.com/YuECyGVBgJ— Clay Travis (@ClayTravisBGID) August 14, 2013
Yeldon likely won't average 6.3 yards per carry again in 2013 with offensive line studs like D.J. Fluker, Chance Warmack and Barrett Jones all having moved on, but there's no reason to believe he won't rush for another 1,100-plus yards and a dozen touchdowns this fall with more touches.
Follow Bleacher Report Featured Columnist Patrick Clarke on Twitter.
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