With Alabama past the midway point in spring practice, there are a handful of players who still have work to do in hopes of making a strong impression on coaches heading into the summer.
If you focus on getting better and being the best you can be then you have the best opportunity to get where you want to go, and that's where we want to get, that's where they want to get and we want to work together with them so they have the best opportunity to do that.
Even though the focus isn’t on earning a top spot on the depth chart, a few players could use a strong final two weeks of spring practice in order to stand a better chance of seeing significant reps in the fall.
Tackle Leon Brown is one of six players who are on the clock for Saturday's scrimmage in Bryant-Denny Stadium:... http://t.co/gUhiNdCHdB— BamaOnline (@BamaOnline247) April 5, 2014
One of the bigger questions for Mario Cristobal’s offensive line unit entering the spring was filling the left tackle vacancy.
Senior Leon Brown was the player who started out with the first unit when spring practice began.
However, Brown was running with the twos after sophomore Brandon Greene was moved up to the first unit this week, as detailed by Cliff Kirkpatrick of the Montgomery Advertiser.
BamaOnline’s Marc Torrence (subscription required) reported that Brown regained a spot with the ones, but that it was at right tackle for the Tide’s first scrimmage last Saturday.
With a decorated class of linemen set to arrive in the summer, Brown is a player who needs to finish strong in hopes of landing a starting role this season.
Alabama’s wide receiver group may be the deepest segment on the roster, and the addition of Cameron Sims only bolsters a unit ripe with experience and young talent.
The upperclassmen trio of Amari Cooper, Christion Jones and DeAndrew White are known quantities, and rising newcomers such as Sims and Robert Foster are poised to challenge for a spot in the rotation.
Rising sophomore Chris Black, a former touted recruit in the 2012 class, is entering a critical phase of his career.
According to Andrew Gribble of AL.com, Black’s name didn’t appear on the stat sheet following the Tide’s first scrimmage.
After earning limited reps last season, Black—who caught eight passes for 79 yards and two scores in 2013—needs to show that he can become a reliable and consistent threat working out of the slot.
Watch Nick Saban reject the "perceived depth" of the defensive line | http://t.co/RoL2mBpFmb— Vasha Hunt (@photovman) April 1, 2014
Defensive Line Unit
While optimism surrounds the Tide’s defensive line unit entering the season, Saban was quick to temper it when asked about the perceived depth at that position last week, according to ESPN’s Alex Scarborough.
“What it looks like on paper?” Saban scoffed. “We’ve never seen these guys play or seen them take on an SEC lineman. That’s how we form public opinion because something appears to be that way and everyone believes it.”
Saban’s point on the lack of actual production is a valid one. However, with young talents such as A’Shawn Robinson and Jonathan Allen entering their sophomore seasons, their continued development is critical to the success of the defense this season.
Alabama returns a pair of starters at linebacker, and rising junior Dillon Lee is in good position to man a third after impressing Saban early in the spring, as noted by Aaron Suttles of the Tuscaloosa News.
Similar to Black’s predicament, third-year sophomore Ryan Anderson—a former 5-star recruit—is surrounded by veterans in front of him and a wealth of incoming studs set to arrive in the summer.
Travis Reier of BamaOnline identified Anderson as a player in Lance Thompson’s segment that needed to make a move in the spring, and that sentiment still applies less than two weeks away from the A-Day game.
The secondary is another unit that should see a lot of fresh faces this season. However, it’s also another area where the Tide landed multiple prospects who are arriving with sterling prep credentials.
While veterans Landon Collins, Nick Perry and Jarrick Williams are safe bets to be on the field early and often, the rest of the secondary has more questions than answers.
Which player is most in need of a strong finish in spring practice?
The situation at corner took a turn for the worse with corner Eddie Jackson suffering a torn ACL in a non-contact drill last weekend, according to Scarborough.
Smith, who saw action in 11 games and recorded 13 tackles and three pass breakups as a true freshman, has the opportunity to seize a role if he can show that he’s fully grasped the playbook and is ready to complete his transition from the prep level.
As Reier details (subscription required), Smith is still running behind veterans such as Bradley Sylve and Cyrus Jones, as well as newcomer Tony Brown.
With Jackson out for the immediate future, Smith is one of a handful of corners who will be counted on to step up and fill the void created by his absence.