This season, every unit on Alabama's team will play an important role if the Tide wants to post another great season.
Fortunately, in the past couple of years, Alabama has built crucial depth and stacked every position on the field. Here is a ranking of how I think Alabama's units will stack up this year. (special teams not included.)
1: Running back: "Mark" it down, (pun intended) Alabama's stable of backs is the best in the nation. Mark Ingram leads the way after a Heisman finish last year, and covering his back is sophomore Trent Richardson, who might be just as good. Behind Richardson is Eddie Lacy, a bruiser from Louisana.
2: Defensive Line: Many an SEC offensive lineman will stumble dazed off the field after facing off with Bama's fearsome defensive line. The "beast" Marcel Dareus will crash through opponents and give opposing quarterback nightmares. Players like Josh Chapman, Kerry Murphy, Luther Davis, and maybe Darrington Sentimore will also star.
3: Quarterback: Alabama's group of quarterbacks is scary good. Experienced leader Greg McElroy is the definite starter, and behind him is two top-tier talents, A.J. McCarron and Phillip Sims.
4: Linebacker: When Coach Nick Saban arrived at the Capstone in 2007, the linebacker position was pretty thin. Now, all of that has changed as Alabama has many current and future linebacker stars on the roster. Don'ta Hightower is rearing to go after returning from a painful knee injury, and budding stars like Jerrell Harris are ready to prove their worth.
5. Offensive Line: The offensive line is the backbone for any team's success, and Alabama's line proved itself quite well last year, when they were expected to be a weakness of the team. The O-line will lose two good, experienced line men in Mike Johnson and Drew Davis, but more than capable replacements are ready to take over like D.J. Fluker and Chance Warmack.
6. Wide Receiver: For Alabama's receivers, there is more than what meets the eye. For all the hype Julio Jones gets, there are tons of other good players playing alongside him. Marquis Maze made some game-changing catches last year, and Darius Hanks has flashed his ability.
7. Defensive Back: Now we come to Alabama's big question mark. The only returnee from last season's DB unit is safety Mark Barron. That should make competition fierce between B.J. Scott, Dre Kirkpatrick, Demarcus Milliner, John Fulton, and Phelon Jones at corner, while candidates for the safety position opposite Barron include Robert Lester, and newbies Kendall Kelly and Blake Sims. The safety position is pretty shaky now after the departure of Rod Woodson, so Tide fans hope that Lester will have success.
8. Tight End: With the loss of Colin Peek, Bama's great tight end last year, the Tide must find another playmaker at tight end, which plays a crucial role in the Tide offense. Preston Dial, Brad Smelley, Chris Underwood, Michael Williams, and Mike Marrow all want to be that guy, but they might be beat out by freshman Brian Vogler, who reminds me of Peek.