Alabama Spring Football: Pre-Scrimmage Practice, April 12, 2013

Kevin C. Cox

For the first time in weeks, the Tide was not in pads today. Instead, the team's 11th spring practice session was in shorts and shells as the squad prepared for tomorrow's second scrimmage. Expect to see some guys featured tomorrow who didn't have big roles in the first scrimmage.

The group in black jerseys remained at seven, the six who have been in black all spring plus Trey DePriest, who joined the group earlier this week with a stress fracture to his foot. In addition, nose tackle Wilson Love missed his second straight practice with a concussion and remains day-to-day. DePriest, Kevin Norwood and John Fulton are out for the spring, as it looks like Fulton's recovery will be completed just a week or two too late for his participation.

Dee Hart, C.J.Mosley, Jalston Fowler and DeAndrew White will participate in the scrimmage in non-contact roles. While Mosley's job is secure and his health for the fall is not in question, Hart, Fowler and White are all in the process of recovering from ACLs suffered during the 2012 season and all three are stuck in hot position battles.

Fowler is probably still a hair behind the other two in his recovery but looks to be closing that gap, and his style of play is less dependent on quick changes of direction than the other two. He remains on target to contribute solidly this fall. Fowler is a unique player, a veteran who can play multiple positions in multiple ways and is a triple threat as a blocker, runner and pass receiver. His encouraging recovery to date is potentially good news for the 2013 Tide attack.

White stood out in the first scrimmage despite being not quite 100%. The ability to participate in drills with the other receivers, even in a non-contact role, is vital for his chances at serious playing time this fall, as the competition at wideout will be man-eating. Alabama could have as many as half a dozen or even more future NFL players in the wide receiver corps this spring; it's safe to say that has never happened in Tuscaloosa.

Of the three recovering from ACLs, Hart, who continued to practice at running back, may be losing the most from a football perspective due to his injury. His running style is heavily dependent on shiftiness, which is the attribute that suffers the most in recovering from a knee injury. The competition at running back is just as daunting as at wideout, and at this point it seems that Hart is a long shot for competitive playing time in 2013.

One position that has generated virtually zero news is quarterback. Although six guys are fighting for the backup spot behind A.J. McCarron, rumors from the practice field have been few and far between. About all we know is that Blake Sims got the bulk of the backup work in the first scrimmage. Expect someone else to get a shot tomorrow, and while Alec Morris is the lead candidate, don't be shocked if it's someone else, since we just don't know what's going on there. At least we should be able to look forward to a few new scraps of info tomorrow, since the Athletic Department inevitably releases some passing stats after scrimmages.

One guy who can definitely be expected to get his share of playing time is new cornerback Cyrus Jones. Jones' transition to the defensive backfield continues to go smoothly, and he is being given a chance to learn on the field. Coming into spring the Tide already had three known commodities at the corner: Deion Belue, Geno Smith and Fulton. If Jones pans out as a fourth solid corner, depth in the defensive backfield will be assured, absent injury: the safety position looks solid enough depth-wise that Nick Perry, who saw plenty of time last year, is probably the #5 safety right now.

It will be interesting to see if Tana Patrick, who led the team in tackles in the first scrimmage, racks up (relatively) big stats again. Most armchair analysts, such as yours truly, would've placed him behind Reggie Ragland going into the spring, but Patrick may be holding his own against the younger guy. Ragland has shown up as a force against the run, but has struggled a bit in coverage. Both guys are getting plenty of reps with DePriest out and Mosley in black, and Dillon Lee is getting inside work he may not have gotten otherwise, as is Ryan Anderson. Lee has previously worked with the sams, Anderson with the jacks.

Tomorrow's scrimmage will be closed to the public. After two more practice sessions next week, the fans will finally get their first glimpse of the early version of the 2013 Tide at next Saturday's A-day game.

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