By Marq Burnett
This is the 19th installment of a 24-part series detailing Alabama's projected depth chart heading into the 2015 season.
TUSCALOOSA -- Last season, Alabama had a three-man rotation at the "star" position, which if the fifth defensive back in its nickel and dime packages. Jarrick Williams, Geno Smith and Maurice Smith were the top three. Williams started the season, but was injured. He's now gone. Geno Smith took over the spot, but will be more of a regular safety this season. That leaves Maurice Smith as the top option for the position.
Maurice Smith (6-foot-0, 199 pounds)
Jabriel Washington (5-foot-11, 182 pounds)
Maurice Smith is expected to take on a bigger role heading into his third season with the Crimson Tide. He started out as a cornerback, but has drifted more toward playing safety, similar to the progression Geno Smith took when he arrived at Alabama. Like the other Smith, Maurice has the ball skills of a corner. But he is a bigger player who will help a lot against the running game.
Smith played in all 14 games a season ago, making one start. He finished with 10 total tackles including .5 tackle for loss (sack) to go with one pass break up.
Jabriel Washington is one of the those overlooked players who has stuck it out, and is now on the verge of earning a pretty big role in his final season.
If Washington doesn't earn a starting role in the Crimson Tide's base defense, he will certainly see the field in some of its sub-packages. Washington knows the defense in and out, and will be a key veteran who can help some of the younger guys catch onto thing a little faster.
Washington played in all 13 of the Tide's games last season, making one start. He mostly played in the money role, or the Tide's sixth defensive back in its dime package. He was also a regular on special teams. Washington had 17 tackles, one interception and two pass breakups last season. His interception was the team's first of the season last year.
Alabama signed three defensive backs -- Shawn Burgess-Becker (6-foot-1, 195 pounds), Minkah Fitzpatrick (6-foot-1, 195 pounds) and Kendall Sheffield (6-foot-0, 185 pounds).
"He's good any place on the field. He's a dynamic athlete doing the best he can do. He's balling and making plays. He knows what he's doing. I have tremendous confidence when he's on the field and he has tremendous confidence in himself. He makes mental errors, but he knows how to learn from them." -- Former Alabama safety Landon Collins on Maurice Smith
Contact Anniston Star Sports Writer Marq Burnett at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter:@Marq_Burnett.