BamaOnLine.com takes a look ahead at the defensive line positions.
Damion Square returns as Alabama's most experienced and productive defensive lineman.
Starter lost: NT Josh Chapman .
Key reserve lost: NT Nick Gentry.
Returning starters: DE Jesse Williams (Sr.); DE Damion Square (Sr.).
In the mix: Nose tackle: Brandon Ivory (So.); Wilson Love (rFr.); D.J. Pettway (rFr.); Defensive end: Ed Stinson (Jr.); Quinton Dial (Sr.); Undra Billingsley (Sr.); Jeoffrey Pagan (So.); Chris Bonds (Jr.); LaMichael Fanning (rFr.).
January enrollees: NT Alphonse Taylor.
Did you know? The Alabama defensive line matched its sack production from 2010, dropping opposing quarterbacks 9.5 times in 2011 ... Square's sack total dropped from three in 2010 to one in 2011, but he did lead all defensive linemen in tackles for loss with seven ... Gentry led all UA defensive linemen in sacks in 2011 with 4.5 ... Of the seven different Alabama defensive linemen who recorded tackles for loss last season, five are set to return in 2012.
The big question: Who steps forward at nose tackle? Chapman and Gentry combined to play in 89 games during their UA careers, a total highlighted by 25 starts from Chapman.
Time to make a move: With Chapman and Gentry moving on, Ivory represents much of the returning game experience at nose tackle. As a redshirt freshman in 2011, the Memphis native recorded five assisted tackles while seeing action in four games.
Best of the bunch: Wallace Gilberry in 2007 excluded, big numbers in this defense are usually reserved for linebackers. That said, Square, who has 19 career starts to his credit, is poised for a very productive senior season. And given what the Crimson Tide is losing on the edge, it will likely be needed.
Biggest upside: Like Square, depending on the defensive call, Williams can play either inside or outside. Still very much in the learning stages of his football career, the Aussie showed increased play-making ability as he became better acclimated with proper technique.
Don't be shocked if: Fanning is the first guy off the team bus on game days. The redshirt freshman looks like an NFL defensive end waiting to happen. Now we'll begin to find out if he has the athleticism and desire to match up with his impressive frame.
Lest we forget: After playing in just 14 games during his first three years in the program, Gentry saw action in 25 contests over his final two campaigns. It doesn't always happen overnight for linemen.
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