As fall practices are under way, Alabama Crimson Tide open the gates of Bryant Denny Stadium to her fans and allowed the general public to get a first-hand look at the 2012 team. Here are a few noteworthy standouts to keep an eye on for the coming season:
Let’s start on defense, where the Tide is looking to replace NFL caliber players in Dont’a Hightower, Dre Kirkpatrick, Courtney Upshaw, and Mark Barron. As far as linebackers are concerned, you can’t really replace a player like Hightower. But you can substitute him for a player who not only played along side him, but who also knows first hand how to run a defense. Nico Johnson is stepping into Hightower’s place. Going into his senior year, Johnson has all the potential in the world, and could finish the season as an All American.
Vinnie Sunseri will be roaming the safety position in Barron’s place. Hailed by Coach Nick Saban as a player to watch this season, Sunseri has shown great athleticism and leadership in the secondary. With great power and speed, Sunseri flies to the ball with great lower body control, no wasted motion, and solid tackling form.
A few Defensive backs to keep an eye on are Hunter Bush, Deion Belue, and HaHa Clinton-Dix (yes, that is his real name.) Clinton-Dix showed off fantastic footwork in drills throughout practice, never losing eye contact with the ball. Belue was quick to jump routes, making a few interceptions during 11 on 11 scrimmages. Although Hunter Bush (junior) may not see much playing time, he showed good power during contact drills. Small stature, listed at 5’11″ 195, he might make his mark this year working with special teams.
On the defensive line, the “Monstar” known as Jesse Williams made headlines last week, benching 600 pounds. This “manimal” spent a good amount of time in the backfield during practice, showing great speed off the ball. Anchoring Saban’s 3-4 defense shouldn’t be an issue for Williams.
When it comes to a Nick Saban defense, you can be sure that a good amount of attention will be centered on the defensive backfield. This was the case for the open practice, as Saban spent about 70 percent of his time working with the defensive backs and safeties. Be it good or bad, those boys have a lot of pressure riding on their shoulders.