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Alabama Football: Where Tide Will Be Impacted Most by Loss of Dee Hart

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Alabama Football: Where Tide Will Be Impacted Most by Loss of Dee Hart
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The college football offseason has claimed another victim, but this one apparently was a long time coming.

Alabama rising junior running back Dee Hart was arrested over the weekend and charged with possession of marijuana and giving false information according to Stephen Dethrage of AL.com. The arrest stems from an investigation by the Tuscaloosa Police Department of reports that counterfeit money was being used at a gas station.

Following the arrest, Alabama issued a statement to Michael Casagrande of AL.com that Hart hasn't been a part of the team since the 45-31 Sugar Bowl loss to Oklahoma on Jan. 2.

Hopefully he will learn from this mistake and continue to work toward completing his degree, which he is on track to do by the summer.

So what does Hart's absence mean for the 2014 Crimson Tide?

At the running back position, not much.

Hart only rushed for 166 yards and one touchdown during his two seasons in Tuscaloosa, fighting a crowded depth chart and two ACL injuries for playing time. The 5'9", 187-pounder came to the program with a ton of hype. The former 4-star prospect in the Class of 2011 was the No. 3 all-purpose running back in the class and had his choice of several big-name programs including Auburn and Michigan.

Michael Chang/Getty Images
Former Alabama RB Dee Hart

But fellow junior T.J. Yeldon emerged as the No. 1 running back in 2013, rushing for 1,235 and 14 touchdowns after serving as Eddie Lacy's primary backup in 2012. 

If Yeldon doesn't retain his title as "feature-back" in 2014, it will likely be because Derrick Henry took it from him. The 6'3", 238-pound monster emerged as a potential superstar in that Sugar Bowl, rushing for 100 yards and a touchdown against the Sooners.

With speedster Kenyan Drake, sophomore Altee Tenpenny and redshirt freshman Tyren Jones also on the roster, Hart's impact would have been minimal in first-year offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin's offense.

Where his absence will be felt is on special teams, where he played well during his two years in Tuscaloosa.

He had nine tackles on special teams in 2013 and averaged 13.5 yards per return as a part-time punt returner over the last two seasons. His speed and ability to break loose of blockers made him a reliable member of the Crimson Tide's kick coverage teams.

In the video above, Hart shed his blocker, went low, put his helmet on the football and forced a fumble in the 2012 rout of Arkansas in Fayetteville.

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His speed allowed him to get down the field in a hurry, and even when he didn't make tackles, he routinely disrupted returns and forced ball-carriers to change direction, allowing his teammates to clean up the mess.

Don't be fooled by Hart's name being way down the depth chart at running back, because he was an absolute missile on special teams in coverage and provided depth at punt returner behind Christion Jones.

Luckily for Alabama and head coach Nick Saban, there is a laundry list of former hot-shot prospects vying to take his place and find the field in some way, shape or form.

 

*Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. All recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports and all college statistics courtesy of CFBStats.com.

 


 

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