Final Chapter Begins for Alabama Crimson Tide Seniors

Walter KirkwoodAnalyst IJanuary 18, 2010

2010 will be the last trip around the SEC block for 12 Alabama seniors. Some may not even make it that far. 

Alabama always begins spring with more players than it can carry in the fall. Seniors who have not played much often choose to move on with their lives.

Some are moved to medical scholarships due to injury, which essentially ends their careers. Some can and do transfer to lower divisions of football where they can play immediately.

The 2010 senior class for the Crimson Tide has a national title ring and an SEC championship to its credit, but it is unremarkable in personal accomplishments.

Only two members of the class started in 2009, left tackle James Carpenter and Greg McElroy. Their stories are well documented. But what about the rest?

Let's take a look.

Offensive lineman David Ross

Ross was a four-star recruit out of the storied Homewood High program. He was the first man off the bench at guard or center in 2008 and played extensively that year.

In the spring of 2009, he entered a battle with William Vlachos for the starting center position. The battle was close, but Vlachos pulled ahead and never missed a significant snap in 2010. Ross may be in the battle to replace Mike Johnson, but the competition has gotten stiffer.

Offensive lineman David Pharr

Pharr, another Birmingham product (Irondale, AL), was a project player signed by Mike Shula. He has been in and out of competition for the tackle positions but never put on the weight necessary to play in the SEC.

Running back Terry Grant

Grant broke a freshman rushing record his first year at Alabama but faded to backup status with the emergence of Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson. Grant's Achilles' heel appears to be his size and lack of ability to break tackles. He was injured for the second half of 2010.

Defensive end Luther Davis

Davis has been a regular contributor on the defensive line since arriving at Alabama. He will likely start spring as the starting defensive end but faces stiff competition from younger players. Win or lose in the spring, he should see playing time next year.

Wide receiver Earl Alexander

Alexander arrived as a quarterback and later converted to wide receiver. He was squarely in the rotation in 2008, but injuries limited his playing time all year. In 2009, his playing time dropped even more with other players taking most of the snaps.

Can Alexander have a bounce-back senior season? It's not uncommon for a player to catch fire in his final season, and Alexander is a huge target in the secondary.

Defensive end Milton Talbert

Talbert plays hard, but at 233 pounds he has never found a place in Nick Saban's defense. He was tried at Jack last year and moved back to defensive end, where he has played sparingly.

Offensive lineman Brian Motley

Motley began at center under Shula. He then moved to nose under Saban and earned a starting spot only to break his leg. By the time he returned, the legend of Mt. Cody had begun. Motley moved back to offensive line and earned a starting spot in the spring at guard, only to lose the battle to Barrett Jones in fall camp.

Motley is an athletic but small lineman who has been on the cusp of starting most of his career. He too will be in the battle to replace Mike Johnson.

Defensive end Nick Gentry

Like Talbert and Motley, Gentry's problem is size, or lack thereof. At 263 pounds he is small for a Saban defense and lacks the speed to make up for it. He's a tenacious player who has been used at times against the faster spread attacks. Gentry will likely still have a role should he remain on the team but is no threat to start.

Linebacker Chavis Williams

Williams was committed to Houston Nutt at Arkansas when Nick Saban was hired. Saban talked him into coming to Bama, and he has played off and on. He has some foot speed and has been tried as a pass rush specialist several times with little results.

Williams will once again be in the battle for playing time at the SAM position. Can he finally crack the lineup?

H-back Preston Dial

Dial had a strong spring last year and carried that through to steady playing time this past year. He had few highlight plays but plays hard, blocks well, and does what he is expected to do. Look for him to have an even better senior year.

Alabama has to find new leadership in 2010, especially on defense and the offensive line. Hopefully some of Alabama's seniors can make their last year their greatest year, but for some, the end has already come. 

Not every player who comes to Alabama finds success on the field, but all can hold their heads high for having done something that few people get to do: Put on that crimson jersey and be a part of the legend that is the Crimson Tide.