TUSCALOOSA AL - NOVEMBER 13: Defensive back Robert Lester #37 of the Alabama Crimson Tide intercepts a pass against the Mississippi State Bulldogs November 13 2010 at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa Alabama. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
According to multiple sources, redshirt junior safety Robert Lester has informed coaches he plans to return for his senior season next year with the Crimson Tide. Lester has been a full-time starter for both of the last two seasons. He led the SEC in interceptions during the 2010 season.
If these reports are true, this is huge news for the Tide's secondary in 2012. With senior starters Mark Barron and DeQuan Menzie set to graduate, and junior Dre Kirkpatrick, a projected first-round draft pick, almost certain to declare for the NFL, Lester will likely be the only returning starter in the secondary. Sophomore corner Dee Milliner, who started in 2010 and played significantly in 2011 as the nickel back, will also return with a good deal of experience under his belt.
With Lester returning, Saban and company will only need to replace one starter at the safety spot rather than two. Young safeties like Vinnie Sunseri, Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix, NIck Perry, Jarrick Williams, and Will Lowery will compete to replace Barron and also pick up snaps as dime back in certain packages.