Spring practice is in full gear for the Alabama football team in Tuscaloosa and according to coach Nick Saban, things are progressing nicely. One player that has stood out to coach Saban is true freshman Demetrius Hart. Hart was one of the most hyped players in 'Bama's class of 2011 and got an early start to his Alabama career by finishing high school early to participate in spring practice.
Hart arrives at the Capstone with good timing, as the Tide lost Heisman winner Mark Ingram to the NFL. However, in Tuscaloosa, you have to earn playing time, and Demetrius faces a tough test of competing with Eddie Lacy for carries.
Trent Richardson, as powerful and quick a runner as they come, has all but cemented his spot as 'Bama's top dog in the backfield. However, since Saban likes to keep at least two backs rotating to keep them fresh, the top two options for the second options are Lacy and Hart. My guess is that Lacy will get more carries this year, and then in 2012 Hart will become a huge part of Alabama's offense.
Another viable use for Hart is at returner. According to www.rolltide.com, coach Saban said, "Dee Hart is a very bright guy, learns things quickly, is very instinctive on the field, and seems to have a natural knack in space to catch the ball and has good ball judgment, so he is a guy we are going to try to develop as a punt returner. But it's too early to tell. he has never been in a live situation, so this scrimmage coming up will be a time to be able to evaluate that. I think Marquis Maze has made some progress and has a better understanding of some of those things. But I have been impressed with Dee Hart overall. He's a very bright guy, runs quickly, and is very instinctive."
It sounds like Saban has big plans for Hart, and although Maze will handle punt return duties in his senior season, I wouldn't be surprised to see Hart or Bradley Sylve alongside Maze for kickoff returns.
Whatever his role in 2011, 'Bama fans can expect great things from Demetrius Hart in the future.