BamaOnLine.com takes a look ahead at the defensive line positions.
Ed Stinson led UA defensive linemen in tackles for loss in 2012.
Key reserves lost: DE 90 Quinton Dial; DE 57 DJ Pettway.
Returning starter: 49 Ed Stinson (Sr.).
In the mix: Nose tackle: 62 Brandon Ivory (Jr.); 95 Darren Lake (So.); 51 Wilson Love (So.); 94 Dakota Ball (rFr.). Defensive end: 8 Jeoffrey Pagan (Jr.); 44 LaMichael Fanning (So.); 52 Dalvin Tomlinson (rFr.); 85 Korren Kirven (rFr.).
See ya in the summer: DE/OLB Jonathan Allen; DE Dee Liner; NT A'Shawn Robinson; NT Darius Paige.
Did you know? Between them, Square and Williams combined to make 54 starts the past two seasons ... In dropping opposing quarterbacks 13 times in 2012, the Alabama defensive line surpassed its sack production from 2011, when it posted 9.5 sacks ... Of Stinson's 30 total tackles last season, 8.5 went for loss ... Of the eight different linemen who recorded tackles for loss last season, four -- Stinson, Pagan, Ivory and Lake -- are set to return for 2013.
The big question: In 2012, Alabama went with a rotation that was heavily dependent on Williams, Square and Dial. The good news is that the Crimson Tide has reached a point where it can plug in players who are not only talented, but somewhat experienced as well. Pagan and Fanning are entering their third years in the program, while Ivory heads into his fourth. That doesn't mean, however, that youngsters like Tomlinson and Lake won't make a significant impact in the very near future.
Time to make a move: It's no longer about potential for Pagan, who showed promise in limited opportunities during his first two seasons in the program. With Square moving on, the junior needs to be an every down force in 2013, both at end in the three-man front and inside in the four-down.
Best of the bunch: Since 2011, Stinson has racked up 13.5 tackles for loss, the most by any UA defensive linemen the past two seasons.
Biggest upside: In terms of next-level potential, Pagan has more of it than any UA defensive lineman since Marcell Dareus. At 6-foot-4 and 285 pounds, he is not limited to a specific position or front.
Don't be shocked if: Tomlinson is the first end off the bench, with an emphasis on the four-down look (base nickel/dime, rabbits or both) that UA employs a good bit of the time. He doesn't have prototype end size (6-foot-2, 266 pounds) but as a pass rusher, he could prove to be the kind of disruptive force inside that causes problems for interior offensive linemen.
Lest we forget: Armed with a wealth of veteran performers a season ago, Alabama was able to redshirt three freshmen, Tomlinson, Kirven and Ball, pushing the total of defensive line redshirts over the last three years to six.
Spring Sneak Peek: Quarterback
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