Ten Alabama players who will compete for prominent roles this spring:
Revamping the offensive line will start with Kelly at center.
C Ryan Kelly
What he's done to date: Picked up freshman all-SEC honors after playing in 10 games in 2012. Redshirted in 2011.
What's needed from him moving forward: Somewhat undersized, Kelly is not going to manhandle defensive linemen, so he'll need to be extremely sound from a technique standpoint. That approach seemed to work fairly well for Barrett Jones.
TE Brian Vogler
What he's done to date: Played in 23 games the last two seasons, including three starts in 2012. Three career receptions for 27 yards.
What's needed from him moving forward: Capable of working at either tight end or H, Vogler brings versatility to the position, which will make sorting out exactly who the offensive staff will pair with him a bit easier. There's also the possibility of more three wide sets from an offense that will be absolutely loaded with talent on the outside. Alabama won't have to throw to setup the run in 2013. Having guys like Amari Cooper, Kenny Bell and Kevin Norwood back at wide receiver should go a long way in discouraging defenses from dropping a safety into the box.
NT Brandon Ivory
What he's done to date: Appeared in 17 games the past two seasons, including a start against Western Kentucky in 2012. Has 27 career tackles, a quarterback hurry and a fumble recovery to his credit.
What's needed from him moving forward: Hold down the point on first down and short yardage situations. With the advent of the spread offense, that's basically the extent of duties for nose tackles these days.
PK Adam Griffith
What he's done to date: Redshirted in 2012.
What's needed from him moving forward: I can't recall a more talented kicker signed by UA than Griffith. The ball comes off his foot unlike any Crimson Tide specialist I've seen. If only talent guaranteed points once the ball is snapped in SEC play. The good news for UA is that with what it brings back offensively, field goals may take a backseat to extra points for the second season in a row.
CB Geno Smith
What he's done to date: Appeared in 13 games last season as a true freshman, making starts at the star position against Western Carolina and Georgia. Posted nine total tackles and two pass breakups.
What's needed from him moving forward: At a minimum, lock down the star position in the nickel and dime packages. It's not unrealistic to think the sophomore will also start at corner in the base defense.
CB John Fulton
What he's done to date: Appeared in 36 games for the Crimson Tide, with his lone start coming against Texas A&M in 2012. Posted a career-high four pass breakups against the Aggies and picked up defensive player of the week honors from the UA coaching staff.
What's needed from him moving forward: First, fully recover from offseason foot surgery. Beyond that, join Smith and Deion Belue in giving UA a solid corner trio.
OT Austin Shepherd
What he's done to date: As the backup to DJ Fluker the past two seasons, Shepherd saw action in 17 games.
What's needed from him moving forward: Before you write off the right tackle job to Leon Brown, keep in mind that the position is usually reserved for a sturdy individual who is stronger in the run game than pass pro. Heading into spring drills, I've got Shepherd as one of UA's top five returning linemen.
OG Arie Kouandjio
What he's done to date: Has appeared in 13 games at Alabama. Primary backup to Anthony Steen at right guard in 2012 and worked at tackle in 2011. Redshirted in 2010 before knee woes cut his 2011 season short.
What's needed from him moving forward: The best news to come from Kouandjio's 2012 season was that his knees didn't prevent him from going wire to wire. Like Shepherd, Ivory, Vogler and Chad Lindsay, another candidate at guard, he's a redshirt junior who needs to make it happen now.
S Landon Collins
What he's done to date: As a true freshman last season, Collins emerged as a star on special teams. Recorded 17 total tackles and a blocked punt in 2012. Also saw time at safety and money in the secondary.
What's needed from him moving forward: If he proves trustworthy, keeping the talented sophomore out of the safety rotation won't be easy. With the possible exception of HaHa Clinton-Dix, Collins is a talent upgrade over every other safety on the roster. The past tells us, however, that trust weighs as heavily in getting a guy on the field (and keeping him there) at safety as athletic ability.
DE Dalvin Tomlinson
What he's done to date: Redshirted in 2012 after sustaining ACL injury in the spring of his senior year of high school.
What's needed from him moving forward: Suddenly, the Crimson Tide is in need of help at the defensive end position. That's what happens when a program graduates three players (Jesse Williams, Quinton Dial and Damion Square) and potentially loses another to off-the-field issues (DJ Pettway). By all accounts, Tomlinson made large strides while redshirting. Size-wise, he may be a bit of a tweener in a three-man front, but with UA playing more and more four-down, he could prove effective while rushing the passer from the inside.
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