With Robby Green Gone, Who Will Step Up at Safety for Alabama Crimson Tide?
The news just keeps getting worse for the already inexperienced Alabama secondary.
On Friday, Crimson Tide safety Robbie Green was ruled ineligible for the 2010 football season citing reasons unknown.
Green's ineligibility announcement hits even harder for the Alabama secondary following the injury of freshman Dequan Menzie, who was injured during a pickup basketball game less than a week ago.
After playing in all 14 games and starting in six, most people expected Green to take over Justin Woodall's spot at free safety, but now the race for the starting safety spot, opposite Mark Barron, is clearly wide open.
Here is a list of players that could be in the mix for the open free safety spot.
Robert Lester committed to the Tide in the 2007 class along with high school teammate Julio Jones. Although Lester was a Rivals four-star and one of the top safeties in the state, many people questioned his recruitment.
Most fans believed he was recruited to give Alabama the inside edge on star receiver Julio Jones, unsure if he would ever be able to contribute in Saban's defensive scheme.
As a redshirt freshman this past year, Lester only saw time in the secondary during blowouts, but starred for Alabama's struggling kickoff coverage.
Lester has apparently been turning heads in the spring so far, which could make him the guy to beat in the race for the safety position.
Kelly came to Alabama as one of the top receivers in the state, with the size and speed necessary to play opposite of Julio Jones.
But in the spring, after becoming buried in the depth chart at the receiver position, Kelly was moved to safety.
Though Kelly has all the attributes to be a great safety, I can't see him grabbing the starting spot with so little experience in the defensive secondary.
Alabama's 2008 recruiting class in Julio Jones got all of the publicity, but Scott was supposed to be the Tide's second biggest signing of the class.
As a freshman, Scott played sparingly for 10 games at the receiver position for Alabama, catching two passes for seven yards.
Though these numbers aren't impressive, Scott was playing with a broken kneecap that was not discovered until arthroscopic knee surgery following the season.
Following his somewhat disappointing freshman season, Scott was moved to the defensive secondary and spent 2009 as a red shirt while learning the defense.
Scott has impressed during the two spring scrimmages thus far, but is expected to be a leading contender to start at cornerback.
Milliner committed to Alabama as the top corner in the nation, but with all of the confusion at the FS position do not be surprised to see Milliner make the switch.
At 6'1" and 180 lbs, Milliner has the size and speed to take over the position, but could some improvement as a tackler.
Milliner would need to have a more then impressive summer showing to take the starting safety spot, but don't be surprised if D-Mill sees a lot of playing time in the 2010 Alabama secondary, whether it is as a corner or a safety.
As a freshman, Rod Woodson played primarily as a special teamer on Alabama's kickoff coverage.
Though Woodson's role as a special teamer was limited, he was able to showcase his ability to "jack up" any ball carrier that got in his way.
Woodson has seen a lot of playing time in both scrimmages and could battle Lester for the starting position.
Woodson's speed and ability to tackle make him a worthy candidate to grab the starting safety spot, but he will have to improve his coverage awareness to become a complete safety.
Kirkpatrick spent most of the 2009 season buried behind other experienced DBs such as Javier Arenas and Kareem Jackson.
Though Kirkpatrick's only playing time came on special teams, some have gone as far to say he could be the next Deion Sanders.
Most people expect to see Kirkpatrick at one of the corner positions, which definitely could happen, but at 6'2" and 180 he could be a good fit at free safety.
Some have questioned Kirkpatrick's ability to jam receivers at the line, which could make safety the position for Kirkpatrick.
But for Kirkpatrick to be a real contender for the position, he will probably need to add some weight to his lanky frame.
Prediction : I see Robert Lester barely edging out Rod Woodson for the starting job, but do not be surprised to see Dre Kirkpatrick or BJ Scott win the spot.
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