Alabama must fill in for C.J. Mosley, Adrian Hubbard

DePriest, others look to fill gaps

Anniston StaMarch 11, 2014 

AP All America Team

FILE- In this Nov. 30, 2013 file photo, Auburn running back Cameron Artis-Payne (44) is tackled for a loss by Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley (32) and linebacker Trey DePriest (33) during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Auburn, Ala. Mosley, Arizona State defensive tackle Will Sutton and Arizona running back Ka'Deem Carey have been selected to The Associated Press All-America team for the second straight season, Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013 (AP Photo/Butch Dill, File)

BUTCH DILL — AP

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- We're just a few days away from Alabama kicking off spring practice and with that, our previews are starting to wind down.

We continue on the defensive side of the ball with a look at the linebacker position, where Alabama is talented, but not deep with experience.

Departed: C.J. Mosley, Tana Patrick, Adrian Hubbard

Ready for the spring: Trey DePriest, rising senior; Xzavier Dickson, senior; Denzel Devall, junior; Reggie Ragland, junior; Dillon Lee, junior; Reuben Foster, sophomore; Ryan Anderson, redshirt sophomore; Tim Williams, sophomore; Walker Jones, redshirt freshman.

Coming in the fall: Rashaan Evans, Keith Holcombe, Christian Miller

Outlook: Finding C.J. Mosley’s replacement at middle linebacker is the No. 1 priority for this group.

With Mosley gone, the Crimson Tide loses leadership and an every down linebacker.

Enter DePriest. DePriest is the next in line to be an every down backer with the knowledge to make all of the calls and checks on defense. DePriest is a two-year starter. After struggling with injuries his sophomore year, DePriest finished third on the team with 65 tackles and has 7.5 stops go for loss. He’ll not only be asked to be a leader of his position groups, but for the entire team.

DePriest will need a running mate in the Tide’s base defense and Ragland and Foster are expected to compete for the spot left by Mosley. Ragland was buried on the depth chart his first two seasons with other talented players in front of him, but now is the time for the former five-star prospect to make a move.

As for Foster, he’s as talented as they come. The only question will be how much of an understanding he has of the defensive scheme. If Foster gets all of the calls down, it’ll be tough to keep him off the field.

Lee is a player who has cross-trained at both inside and outside linebacker making him very valuable. He’s a prime candidate to fill Hubbard’s role at SAM linebacker, but could also play inside in some of Alabama’s sub packages.

At outside linebacker, Devall and Dickson will continue to compete for reps. Both players have shown flashes, but need to show more if they want to be counted on going forward.

Williams is a player to watch out for. He’s shown a nice burst off the edge as a pass rusher and should be a solid situational player going forward.

The Tide is also stacked with talented newcomers. Shaun Dion Hamilton is a prototypical inside linebacker. Enrolling early may help him see the field as a true freshman if others ahead of him don’t take the next step.

Both Evans and Miller put up monster numbers as pass rushers during the senior seasons of high school. Evans is physically ready to play from day one. Depending on how he transitions to college life over the summer and fall, he may see the field as a situational edge rusher.

Miller has expressed his desire to redshirt and develop physically. He’s one of the younger members of the Tide’s 2014 recruiting class and is still growing. Holcombe could see time on special teams early.

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