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. Mosleys 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. Hell 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 Tides 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, hes 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, itll 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. Hes a prime candidate to fill Hubbards role at SAM linebacker, but could also play inside in some of Alabamas 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. Hes 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 dont 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. Hes one of the younger members of the Tides 2014 recruiting class and is still growing. Holcombe could see time on special teams early.