The Alabama defense is facing a some reconstruction so to speak. Departing starters on the line included massive Terrence Cody, Brandon Deaderick, and Lorenzo Washington. Cody was selected in the second round by the Baltimore Ravens and Brandon Deaderick was selected in the seventh round by the New England Patriots.
Cody was obviously the anchor of the defensive line. He constantly faced double teams and ate up space to allow opposing rushers little breathing room. While Cody wasn't a pass rushing NT, the amount of man-power required to keep him out of the backfield allowed a scraping linebacker to pursue a play or two. Brandon Deaderick's leadership and poise on the line will be missed as well.
This year's defensive line potentially can be equally effective. Rotating at the NT position will be Kerry Murphy and Josh Chapman. Chapman is perhaps the strongest player on the team. He boasts of bench press of well over 500 pounds. His strength helps him move most offensive lineman out of his way, which doesn't bode well for pocket passers. He is faster, lighter and stronger than Cody, which says a lot.
Meanwhile, at 6'4" 330 pounds, Kerry Murphy is a big, double team space eater. He is more athletic than Cody and possesses quicker feet. While not as strong as Chapman, he is definitely bigger.
Look for both of these guys to make a lot of noise to opposing offenses this year. Redshirt freshman Brandon Moore is also worth mentioning in this mix. He has spent time learning the defense and benefiting from the "Scotty Cochran" treatment.
The DEs have perhaps the most talent and athleticism on the field. Rotating will be Marcell Dareus, Luther Davis, Damion Square, and Darrington Sentimore.
Dareus is positioned to have a record-breaking season. The Defensive MVP from the BCS Title game wreaked havoc during the spring. Opposing offenses would be wise to put an extra body on him. Luther Davis has played sparingly in his career at Alabama, but has the knowledge and talent to have a productive senior year.
Damion Square is back from a torn ACL and looks poised to follow in the footsteps of Dont'a Hightower; pick up right where he left off. Darrington Sentimore is another redshirt freshman who has followed the path of learning the defense and training with Cochran.
Another name that can't be forgotten is one Nick Gentry. While Gentry has seen very limited action in two years, he possesses the ability to blow up the offensive line and has made the most of his opportunities in the past. The Tide looks to increase their QB sack totals and maintained the reputation of a defense that strikes fear into the hearts of opposing offensive line coaches across the nation.
As previously stated in the linebackers column, Nick Saban has made it a habit to throw in a true freshman since he took the reigns of the team. Incoming freshmen Brandon Ivory and Adrian Hubbard look to continue that trend. Ivory wasn't highly touted because of a coaching error in his game film. Stories of Ivory's unblockable ability during a game reached Saban who promptly paid the 330 pounder a visit at his basketball game. Saban watched the game and offered Ivory after the game.
Hubbard, like Ivory, wasn't in high demand either. Once his senior game was released, the offers came pouring in and he committed to Alabama on the back of its SEC Title demolition of Florida. While he'll need to add bulk to contribute at the next level, it's hard not to like his 6'7" frame or his ability to get to the QB. While both young men have a chance, it's likely they collect a redshirt and train under Cochran.
The future on the D line is good as well. DJ Pettway and LaMichael Fanning are already two DE's on board. At 6'7" 270 pounds, Fanning already has the size. Pettway could very well be in the mix as well.
Highly-touted Georgia DT Gabe Wright has the Tide high on his list. Wright has been adding bulk during the offseason and has the ability to compete immediately for a spot on the team. Tim Jernigan, the top DT in the nation has also listed the Tide as one of his favorites, even though many insiders claimed him to be a LSU lean. Jernigan has the rare combination of size and speed to play on any position on the defensive front seven.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!