Alabama safety Vinnie Sunseri, who had been among the best defensive players in college football this season, has torn his ACL and will be forced to miss the remainder of the year.
Update: Monday, Oct. 21 – 1:13 p.m. ET
According to Cecil Hurt of the Tuscaloosa News, Nick Saban confirmed the torn ACL and said that Landon Collins will assume Sunseri's starting role:
Saban confirms Sunseri out for year. Surgery for ACL tomorrow. Landon Collins will move into that position.— Cecil Hurt (@CecilHurt) October 21, 2013
--END OF UPDATE--
According to Marq Burnett of the Anniston Star:
Alabama junior safety Vinnie Sunseri will miss the remainder of the 2013 season with a torn knee ligament, the Anniston Star has learned.
A source close to the situation said Sunseri tore a ligament in his left knee. Sunseri underwent an MRI on Sunday to gauge the extent of the damage.
An athletics department spokesman declined to confirm or deny the news. Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban generally provides injury updates during his Monday news conference.
Sunseri, a junior, was playing sound football on the back end for Kirby Smart's defense, but he was also making some huge plays.
He had two interceptions—one each against Virginia Tech and Texas A&M—and returned both of them for game-changing touchdowns.
"Vinnie, from a character standpoint as a person, is one of the best guys I've ever had the opportunity to coach," said Saban, according to Burnett. "The guy is just a great competitor."
According to ESPN's Joe Schad, Sunseri will have his ACL surgery on Tuesday, and he could resume football activities in four short months:
Vinnie Sunseri's surgery to repair a torn ACL is Tuesday. Sunseri might resume activities in four months. Is NFL Draft eligible. #Bama— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) October 21, 2013
Fortunately for Alabama, fellow safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix had just been reinstated to the team after missing some time with a suspension.
His presence will help keep the Tide's secondary in working order, and it will allow one of his potential replacements—say, Landon Collins or Jarrick Williams—to take over in Sunseri's spot.
Had Clinton-Dix not returned last week, but then entered after Sunseri went down, people would have wrongfully accused Saban of doing...I'm not even sure what. But it would have been something, and it would have created a story where none exists.
Still, though Alabama has enough depth to survive, losing Sunseri is a crushing blow from both talent and leadership perspectives.
Hopefully his recovery goes well and he can return to form quickly.