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Spring Sneak Peek: Secondary

BamaOnLine.com takes a look ahead at the Crimson Tide secondary.

Clinton-Dix made 10 starts in 2012.

Starters lost: CB 28 Dee Milliner; S 37 Robert Lester.

Returning starters: CB 13 Deion Belue (Sr.); S 6 Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (Jr.).

In the mix: Safety: 3 Vinnie Sunseri (Jr.); 27 Nick Perry (Sr.); 26 Landon Collins (So.); 20 Jarrick Williams (Jr.). Cornerback: 10 John Fulton (Sr.); 24 Geno Smith (So.); 16 Bradley Sylve (So.); 23 Jabriel Washington (So.).

January enrollees: S Jai Miller.

See ya in the summer: CB Anthony Averett; CB Jonathan Cook; CB Eddie Jackson; CB Maurice Smith; ATH ArDarius Stewart.

Did you know? Despite losing three long-time starters in safety Mark Barron and cornerbacks Dre Kirkpatrick and DeQuan Menzie, Alabama ranked seventh nationally in both pass efficiency defense and pass defense in 2012 ... Milliner's 20 pass breakups and 22 passes defended last season were the most by a defender in the Nick Saban era at Alabama ... UA defensive backs recorded 15 interceptions in 2012, up six from the nine passes they picked off in 2011 ... Williams went down with a season-ending knee injury last August, a blow that was lessened by the fact that he had a redshirt year available. He'll be a redshirt junior in 2013 ... Miller, who celebrated his twenty-eighth birthday in January, joined the Crimson Tide as a walk-on after spending the past decade playing professional baseball. A Selma native, Miller committed to play football at Stanford in 2003 before signing with the Florida Marlins that summer.

The big question: As was the case a year ago, the biggest concern is at corner, where Alabama must replace a first-round talent for the third time in four years. Belue returns after a solid debut season and Smith picked up valuable experience late in the 2012 campaign. That leaves Fulton, who sustained a foot injury in UA's loss to Texas A&M last November. After undergoing surgery in January, the senior's status for spring drills is uncertain. If Fulton can't go, first-team reps should be there for the taking for either Sylve or Washington. With depth at corner in mind, it will be interesting to see if UA continues to use Sunseri in the star role or returns to more of the three corners approach it previously employed.

Time to make a move: Any safety not named Clinton-Dix. The other spot is wide open, with Sunseri, Perry, Collins and Williams all possibilities at both safety and the money position in the dime package.

Best of the bunch: Clinton-Dix recorded interceptions in each of the last three games of the 2012 season to finish with a team-high five picks. With Lester moving on, he'll likely shoulder more of the calls on the back end.

Biggest upside: As a true freshman In 2012, Collins followed a similar path to the ones traveled by Sunseri and Clinton-Dix in 2011, making a significant impact on special teams to set up the possibility of an increased role on defense. With a pack of experienced candidates from which to choose, Collins will need to show he can be trusted to be in the right place at the right time.

Don't be shocked if: An offensive skill player or two get a look in the secondary in the spring. Alabama has a backlog of talent at wide receiver and running back and could use some help at corner. However, with a bevy of cover guys set to make their way to Tuscaloosa in June, any experimentation in the secondary may be short-lived.

Lest we forget: He doesn't play in the defensive backfield, but in linebacker CJ Mosley, the Crimson Tide will welcome back the most critical piece of its pass defense.

Also see:
Spring Sneak Peek: Running back
Spring Sneak Peek: Defensive line
Spring Sneak Peek: Quarterback

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