Alabama Reloads Their Linebackers In a Defense That Has Many Holes

Justin DavisContributor IMay 10, 2010

KNOXVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 25: Arian Foster #27 of the Tennessee Volunteers is tackled by Rolando McClain #25 and Dont'a Hightower #30 of the Alabama Crimson Tide during the game at Neyland Stadium on October 25, 2008 in Knoxville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images


The Alabama defense has suffered heavy personnel losses.

Most coaches would look at replacing nine starters on defense as a heavy duty rebuilding project. The Alabama Crimson Tide, however don't rebuild, but reload.

Here's an early look at the Crimson Tide linebacker core.

While taking a pretty nice sized hit, the Alabama linebacker core is arguably the most solid position on the defense.

Departing starters are first rounder Rolando McClain, Eryk Anders and undrafted free agent rookie Cory Reamer. Rolando McClain was one of the few linebackers who never had to leave the field as he was the QB of the defense.

Cory Reamer started at the "Sam", while Anders started at the "Jack." While replacing the leadership of these three 'backers will be tough, however returning starters and incoming freshman look to pick up where McClain and Company left off.

After suffering a season ending knee injury, Dont'a Hightower shocked coaches with a speedy recovery and participated in spring drills. Nico Johnson, who as a true freshman was thrust into the fires known as the SEC, replaced Hightower.

The tandem will start at the "Will" and "Mike" positions respectively, and have the potential to become a very lethal duo.

Chris Jordan, who came to campus as a RB, has been studying the defense for a year. He brings a Scotty Cochran physical readiness to the table, and could earn a co-starting position with Johnson.

"Sam" linebacker Jerrell Harris will definitely be a guy to watch. He was ruled ineligible for much of last season due to receiving illegal benefits, but the hard hitting speedster is back and eager to contribute.

"Jack" linebacker Courtney Upshaw is looking to continue the momentum of his fumble recovering BCS Championship game effort. His position will likely see the most competition and rotation in this defenses complex blitz schemes.

Rotating in will be reserves Tana Patrick, Jonathan Atchinson, Ed Stinson, the aforementioned Chris Jordan and incoming freshman CJ Mosley.

Most have little to no game experience, but have had a year or so to learn the defense coupled with some Cochran training.

CJ Mosely is just an incoming freshman, but he was the only OLB that Saban signed this past Signing Day. Saban has started a true freshman in each of his three years at Alabama, and Mosely definitely has the speed and athleticism to do so.

So far the next Signing Day class looks good at linebacker as well.

Highly touted Shannon Brown from Georgia has already committed, and three of the top linebackers in the nation also have Alabama high on their list. Trey DePriest of Ohio, James Vaughters also of Georgia and Tony Steward of Florida are possible additions who could be the future of the Crimson Tide defense.