Five Alabama Football Players Who Will Shine Against San Jose State
College football fans have been waiting for the 2010 season ever since the 2009 national title game, and few fanbases are as pumped about the new season as the army of Crimson-painted Alabama fans.
The fact that the Tide is playing lightweight San Jose State fails to put a damper on the excitement, as countless throngs of people will fill the Quad near Bryant-Denny Stadium to eat and enjoy each other's company before watching the Crimson Tide play.
Now, on to the game. Alabama will try to work the kinks out of an inexperienced defense and shake off rust in general.
A game like San Jose State will give some young and new players a chance to contribute to the game and veteran players an opportunity to step into leadership roles. Here are five players who should shine against the SJSU Spartans.
Chris Jordan, Linebacker
Chris Jordan has mainly been relegated to special teams and backup duties thus far, but he must assume a bigger role in Alabama's vaunted defense this season.
Jordan has shown ferocious hitting ability and good speed in practice. When he first arrived at the Capstone, he was set to play running back, his high school position, but RB was stacked for the Tide, so the coaches were able to translate his physical abilities to linebacker.
Expect Jordan to make some nice plays against SJSU and against other future opponents.
Julio Jones, Wide Receiver
It's been an up-and-down, roller-coaster Alabama career so far for wide receiver Julio Jones, the top WR recruit in the nation in 2008.
During his freshman year, he joined a depleted receiving corps and almost instantly earned a starting role. He shone throughout the year but dropped several passes, a problem that has come to plague him.
In 2009, he suffered through a very poor first half of the season but partially returned to form in the final stretch. Also, injuries have nagged him throughout his career with Alabama.
Looking ahead, Julio needs to prove he can be a consistent threat, and what better place to start than against San Jose State?
Josh Chapman, Nose Tackle
After two years of waiting in Terrence Cody's huge shadow, nose tackle Josh Chapman is ready to step out and become a household name.
Chapman has impressed when he spelled Cody during games, and he has the makings of an NFL defensive tackle.
Alabama will need him because Cody plugged the middle so effectively that the Tide usually only used three men up front, and opponents rarely ran up the middle.
Expect Chapman to dominate San Jose State's offensive front as he prepares to take on tougher tests like Penn State.
Greg McElroy, Quarterback
Greg McElroy hasn't lost a game since middle school, despite the fact that he's not an amazing playmaker.
Exhibiting leadership, smarts, and a feel for the game, he is exactly what Nick Saban needs at quarterback. He doesn't make many mistakes, and he can make the players around him look good.
Greg is poised to have his best season yet with a seasoned offense around him, including all his favorite targets except for Colin Peek.
Expect Greg to play well when he's in the game against San Jose State, as he will try to start the season off on a good footing, especially with a test like Penn State next up.
Dont'a Hightower, Linebacker
No player will be as excited to be back on the playing field as linebacker Dont'a Hightower. Period.
Dont'a was poised to have an amazing season before it was disappointingly cut short by an excruciating knee injury early in the season against Arkansas.
He watched his team as they cruised to the top and won the national title without him.
Now, Don'ta Hightower must become the "quarterback" of the Crimson Tide defense, which no longer includes 'backer Rolando McClain, who won the Butkus Award and appears to be made of titanium.
When Tide fans try to predict their team's success, they should look at Hightower as a crucial part of the picture. The success of the Tide defense largely relies on his ability to read opposing offenses' calls and adjust to them.
However the rest of the season plays out, count on Hightower to lay out some wince-inducing hits against San Jose State.