03 August 2008
| Alex Watkins - #91 – LB – 6-3 – 225 lbs. – Brownsville, TN – Haywood HS – Redshirt
The success of the 2008 defense could hinge on whether or not Bama is able to get productivity from its JACK Linebacker position. Keith Saunders
gave Bama very little production there last season, and his backup Brandon Fanney
didn’t offer much more when given the opportunity to play. At just 217 lbs. entering fall camp a year ago, Alex needed the redshirt year to gain both bulk and strength, so he didn’t factor into the discussion.
In 2008 he must factor in. Nick Saban's
defense must have a play-maker at the JACK position in order for it to be as physical as he would like. The Tide defense got nothing from the position in 2007, and that has to change for Bama's defense to become what Bama needs it to be in order to compete in the SEC.
Alex only put on 8 lbs., though there is no way of knowing how much of a strength gain he made. The JACK LB is someone you would love to see closer to 240-250 lbs., so he will have to use his quickness and athleticism if he is going to be able to play that much under-sized.
A-Day gave Alex a chance to show what he could, and he responded with 4 tackles and a sack. Fanney was virtually invisible in the game, which means that Alex could very easily have placed himself in a position to open fall camp in a heated battle for the starting position.
Obviously the results of one team scrimmage are not going to completely change the depth chart, but given the fact that Fanney
was not very visible in his playing time last season either, the results of the A-Day game seemed to be a continuing trend for him.
There is expected to be immediate competition from Michael Williams
& Glenn Harbin
who were both expected to start out at different positions. Redshirt Sophomore Charlie Kirschman
also provides depth at the position, though Alex is likely well ahead of him on the depth chart.
It is likely that Fanney, now up to 257 lbs., will maintain the lead he has at the open of fall camp fall camp, mostly owing to his size & experience. If his production is not there, expect to see both Alex and the Freshmen get immediate looks. It would not shock me to see any of these 4 open the Clemson game as the starter, and this will likely be one of the more heated position battles in fall camp.