25 August 2008
There are definitely some interesting things in the depth chart release of the university today. Some guys who were thought to be doing well are not listed, and others who have been working with the scout team are.
The one big thing to take note is that Coach Saban says to take the word "or" on the depth chart to mean that the guys are still battling at that position and it is undecided.
- #14 John Parker Wilson
- #12 Greg McElroy
- #2 Star Jackson or #16 Thomas Darrah
The big reveal here is that Nick Fanuzzi has left the team. The redshirt freshman from San Antonio saw the writing on the wall that he was not going to get playing time. My guess is the "or" between Jackson and Darrah has more to do with Jackson's potential redshirt than anything. If the #3 guy is called on for duty early in the season it will be Jackson. If it's week 9 and Jackson hasn't played, it will be Darrah.
- #38 Glen Coffee
- #22 Mark Ingram or #29 Terry Grant
- #5 Roy Upchurch
Coach Saban indicated that this doesn't matter much because he expects all 4 guys to play and to get carries. As we noted in our profile on Jim McElwain
his 2007 Fresno State offense saw 4 different guys have more than 100 carries. Also noted in that profile is Nick Saban's history with using multiple backs. I think the first three guys will see the bulk of the time, but if Upchurch can stay out of the doghouse he will get enough carries to impact the game.
- #40 Baron Huber
- #34 Jeramie Griffin
No shock here at all; these are the only two guys at the position. More times than not we will see Travis McCall or Preston Dial in the backfield, but when the Tide does use a fullback these are the only options.
- #71 Andre Smith
- #72 Tyler Love or #75 Barrett Jones
The battle between the two true freshman is an interesting one, though it is doubtful that either guy will get much playing time. With these two guys here and Boswell and right tackle, it looks as though the class of 2008 might have been a good one for the outside men on the line. According to Coach Saban, though, Mike Johnson is the primary guy that would come here in case of (gulp) an injury. It would be nice to redshirt both of the freshman.
- #78 Mike Johnson
- #66 Brian Motley
A little surprise here with Motley at guard instead of center. We saw this the last couple of days of practice, which so it isn't a huge shock.
- #59 Antoine Caldwell
- #70 Evan Cardwell or #73 William Vlachos
The most experienced spot on the line remains that way. The first two guys have both played a lot and played well. If there is an injury anywhere on the line either of these guys could end up moving to that position and playing immediately. It's good to see Vlachos is still competing.
- #76 Marlon Davis
- #74 David Ross
No real shock here other than Ross being on the right side instead of the left.
- #79 Drew Davis
- #67 John Michael Boswell or #68 Taylor Pharr
It is good to see Pharr's name back in this list. That competition between he and Boswell should make them both better and will hopefully allow there to be some heat on Davis to stay consistent. I would imagine the coaches would love to redshirt Boswell, so if things truly are even, I expect Pharr would get the nod. Though, as with left tackle, Mike Johnson is the probably backup in case of emergency.
- #83 Travis McCall
- #88 Nick Walker
- # 87 Chris Underwood
- #85 Preston Dial or #17 Brad Smelley
The revealing thing here is that Colin Peek is not listed. That would seem to indicate that any hope of his appeal with the NCAA being resolved this season is gone. His year of eligibility could be granted back to him in the form of the 2010 season, though I hold out little hope of that. It is interesting to see Smelley continue to be right with the other guys.
Wide Receiver ( X )
Wide Receiver ( Z )
- #8 Julio Jones
- #82 Earl Alexander
- #19 Chris Jackson
- #11 Brandon Gibson
Wide Receiver ( H )
- #80 Mike McCoy
- #4 Marquis Maze or #9 Nikita Stover
- #80 Mike McCoy
- #1 BJ Scott
- #15 Darius Hanks
Obviously McCoy can not start at two positions, so this is a situation where formation and play call could dictate who the true starter is at the other spot. The eye-popping thing is of course Julio Jones being the definite starter at the X. It isn't surprising given the last 2 weeks that we've all witnessed. Will Oakley's injury has obviously held him back as he is the only scholarship guy at the position not listed. I'm guessing he would be at the Z, but when you consider that everyone thought Chris Jackson would be with the guys at H, it's tough to really guess.
Left Defensive End
- #95 Brandon Deaderick
- #96 Luther Davis or #57 Marcel Dareus
It is wonderful to see Davis' name pop back up. He had fallen way back in fall camp, and if he can factor into this rotation it only makes the line stronger. Dareus has been one of the more impressive new guys and it is not a shock at all to see him here.
- #62 Terrence Cody
- #99 Josh Chapman
- #92 Damion Square
The big fellow could completely change the Bama front seven on defense. He is just massive and impossible to block with one guy(and sometimes even two or three). Square being listed is a bit of a surprise, though I expect if things get that far down we might see Washington move back inside.
Right Defensive End
- #93 Bobby Greenwood
- #97 Lorenzo Washington
- #90 Milton Talbert
- #94 Undra Billingsley
I expect the Greenwood/Washington battle to be a tough one all season. The fact that Billingsley is listed early is a great sign about his development.
- #13 Cory Reamer
- #5 Jerrell Harris or #55 Chavis Williams
The two guys battling for backup could see a lot of real playing time with Reamer probably taking some snaps at the Will. Harris came on slow but has had steady development. The fact that he'll be getting reps during game week is huge, and I expect his role to gradually increase all season.
- #25 Rolando McClain
- #45 Charlie Higgenbotham
- #21 Prince Hall
Obviously Hall won't play for the first three weeks, but him being listed here is a good sign. It could mean nothing, but I take it as an indication that Coach Saban has faith in him to do what he needs to do over the next three weeks to be ready to play against Arkansas.
- #30 Don'ta Hightower
- #36 Chris Jordan
- #42 Jennings Hester
Hightower was the most impressive freshman linebacker from day one, reminding many people of the type of impact that McClain had in 2007. Jordan being listed at #2 is a complete shock given how little time he's had there to practice. My guess is that Reamer is the real backup option at this position... for now.
- #98 Barndon Fanney
- #32 Eryk Anders
- #41 Courtney Upshaw
Noticeably absent here is Alex Watkins. It appears as though Anders moving over could bump him out of things all together. Upshaw is in a similar spot to Harris in that his role could increase gradually as the year roles on. Fanney is holding everybody off for now, and his play could be the difference in a great defense and a mediocre one.
- #28 Javier Arenas
- #24 Marquis Johnson
- #15 Alonzo Lawrence
A lot of folks wrote Lawrence off when he started working with the scout team, but he might still be in the mix. When Arenas shifts over to the star Lawrence would become the backup to Johnson at this position. So that would mean he is the proverbial "one play away."
- #3 Kareem Jackson
- #8 Chris Rogers or #23 Robby Green
Rogers has the experience edge, but Green just simply won't go away. His technique is way more advanced than most true freshman we've seen, and that could be the key to getting on the field. Jackson is the lock-down go, though, so the backup here isn't likely to see much time.
- #49 Rashad Johnson
- #26 Ali Sharrief or #20 Tyrone King
King is another guy that just won't go away. It is humorous to me that this is a position of great strength for the Bama defense and it is manned by two former walk-ons (Johnson and King and two converted running backs (Johnson and Sharrief).
- #27 Justin Woodall
- #4 Mark Barron
Woodall has been solid since bowl practices and he needed to be. It will be hard to keep Barron off of the field and any drop off in effort could see these flip flop.
Nickel Back ( Star )
- #28 Javier Arenas
- #4 Mark Barron
- #20 Tyrone King or #26 Ali Sharrief
Bama will line up with the nickel defense a lot, so it is worth listing the extra position. We talked about the difference in this position with Arenas vs. Barron in our secondary profile
and it looks like we might see both of those options realized at times.
- #97 PJ Fitzgerald
- #98 Heath Thomas
This won't isn't likely to change despite Thomas' impressive warm-up on fan day. Fitzgerald has all of the game experience and recently earned a scholarship. Those two things are not coincidences.
- #99 Leigh Tiffin
- #44 Corey Smith
This is also the list for kickoff duties. I can't imagine Smith burning a redshirt unless Tiffin gets injured, so expect to see Leigh in both roles.
- #97 PJ Fitzgerald
There isn't anyone listed as a backup, but my guess is that it would be Heath Thomas.
- #50 Brian Selmon
- #61 Carson Tinker or #53 Darren Hallman
Selmon was the guy all of last year, so I wouldn't expect a change here. I also know literally nothing about these guys or what it takes to be good at this position.
Punt and Kickoff Returns
- #28 Javier Arenas
- #8 Julio Jones
I lumped these two positions together because the same two guys are listed - and one of those is a complete shock. While Julio did return kicks in high school he was not among the long list of names that we expected to see at this position. Arenas is among the best in the country and Jones being back with him could be a way to encourage teams to kick to Javier. If they do Jones becomes a blocker, something he is better suited to do than some of the smaller guys that would have been options.
It is interesting to note that 20 of the newcomers, including 19 true freshman, have a place somewhere on this depth chart. That is all but five of the members of the signing class... amazing.
The only member of the signing class on offense not listed is Ivan Matchett. On defense we are not seeing Glenn Harbin, Michael Williams, Robert Lester or Wesley Neighbors.
I don't expect that we will see 20 true freshmen actually play, but the fact that they are listed on this first depth chart is an indication of two things:
- The lack of upper-tier SEC caliber talent that was on this team.
- The fact that these guys all reported to school in incredible shape and ready to play.
In all 71 of the scholarship players are listed on this depth chart along with five walk-ons (Thomas Darrah, Heath Thomas, and the three long snappers).
The biggest surprise has to be Julio Jones returning kicks. That one made my jaw drop as I expected to see Lowe, Maze or Scott. It is obvious that the staff thinks very highly of Jones. As we've said for the last two weeks... this kid is special.
Check back later for a pdf file that you can print and take with you to the Georgia Dome.