(Above left) Grant Dickey gets his mind right before making the lift. Now working at both offensive guard and tackle, Dickey is one of the best athletes among Bama's reserve O-Linemen. Barring injury he's unlikely to start next season, but by the fall Dickey should be a solid second string.
Kenneth Darby (#33 now, but he'll wear #34 next fall) walks off, following practice. There is little doubt that senior Shaud Williams (shown in the background talking to running backs coach Kasey Dunn) deserves to be listed No. 1 at tailback, but Darby is probably no worse than "1a." Combining explosive speed with very good strength, Darby will get plenty of playing time next season.
Chris Harris (#91) walks off, followed just behind by Jeremy Clark (#99). Alabama will be counting on redshirt freshmen next year to provide depth on the defensive line, and Clark and Harris both have the potential to be very good. Harris (6-6, 239) is a virtual prototype for defensive end, while Clark (6-2, 287) has made excellent progress in the weight room since arriving last summer. Clark especially should be an important part of the playing rotation next year on the defensive line. And with Bama's starting ends prone to injury, Harris could very well be.
The photo is from last fall (note Garth's shaved head), but there's certainly nothing else out of date about Juwan Garth (#42). An excellent all-around athlete, Garth wowed the Night of Champions crowd with his athletic dunks. With Mark Anderson currently working at defensive end, Garth is now running second-string at weakside linebacker behind Brooks Daniels. No question Garth should be a part of the linebacker rotation next year.
Kyle Tatum pauses before making the lift. The third redshirt freshman defensive lineman expected to play next year, Tatum's solid 287 pounds looks almost slender on his 6-7 frame. A dominant defensive end in high school, Tatum will be plenty quick to play on the inside in college. He and Clark have both probably already moved up to second string at defensive tackle.
There are several talented older players ahead of him on the depth chart, but redshirt freshman Ramzee Robinson has the look of a future starter. Basically five players are battling for the starting cornerback slot opposite Charlie Peprah, including Robinson, Anthony Madison, Thurman Ward, Roberto McBride and David Scott. At this point Madison is slightly ahead, with Ward and Scott probably next in line. But the distance between the group is small, and since Scott and McBride are seniors and Ward and Madison juniors, Robinson's future value is obvious. Robinson also hopes to contribute next year returning kicks.
EDITOR'S NOTE: It was certainly not our intention to slight the other redshirt freshmen on the squad. Brandon Avalos, Nic Luke and Marcus McKnight are also much improved. (For that matter, so is walk-on redshirt freshman J.P. Adams.) All should eventually contribute--and may even do so next year. But we limited this photo report to players either second string or about to be.