Dean originally said he'd be a May graduate. Perhaps that changes, but he'll bring experience going into the 2017 season.
Dean said Saban told him Marlon Humphrey could go pro early and open up a spot. Minkah Fitzpatrick could be an elite 'back who plays more out of the nickel. Shyheim Carter is turning heads as a defensive back this summer. It's also hard to count on Tony Brown, a former five-star recruit who is facing a suspension in 2016. Beyond that, there's still a lot of youth that includes incoming freshmen Jared Mayden, Nigel Knott and Aaron Robinson, along with redshirt freshman Kendall Sheffield.
Alabama is also trying to flip five-star cornerback Shaun Wade out of Jacksonville, Fla., from Ohio State and Tanner athlete Chadarius Townsend, an Alabama commit, could get a look at cornerback.
A 6'2" JUCO defensive back that runs a 4.3 forty? I'm in. With the very real chance that Marlon Humphrey leaves for the NFL as a redshirt sophomore, an infusion of rangy, experienced talent will be welcome, despite the hoards of 5-star defensive backs waiting in the wings already. What an amazing problem to have. Just think about the defensive back situation a few years ago-- we've come a long ways since then.
Battle to watch: The competition for that fifth defensive back job.
Smith was set to enter fall camp as the first-team nickel back. Smith leaving may lead to Alabama moving Fitzpatrick back inside to nickel back when it goes into its nickel and dime defenses. The third cornerback would then step in to replace Fitzpatrick outside. Redshirt junior Anthony Averett is the current leader in the competition for that third cornerback job, though some young former top recruits like redshirt freshman Kendall Sheffield are also in the mix for that spot.
Others like freshman Shyheim Carter will also factor into the competition for that fifth defensive back spot. If someone like Carter looks better at nickel back during fall camp than Averett or Sheffield looks outside at cornerback, then Alabama could decide to just leave Fitzpatrick outside at cornerback.
Outside of the quarterback battle, this might be the most interesting competition of this offseason, and it could very likely go well into the season. Will Minkah Fitzpatrick stay inside in nickel packages while someone like Anthony Averett or Kendall Sheffield play outside? Or does freshman Shyheim Carter (a similar player to Fitzpatrick, in that he was just as talented on offense, and had more of a reputation as a big-play ball hawk than a pure cover man) take over on the inside?
As I said above, the amount of talent at cornerback for Alabama this season is absolutely ridiculous.
Seeing as how he's never been one to shy away from the physical aspect of the position, taking over base duties shouldn't be much of a problem for the senior. In fact, if there was anything surprising (to me, at least) about his role from a season ago it was that he was on the field in nickel and dime situations instead of the base. So, yeah, he should be just fine in that look when Alabama takes on "how much do you bench?" offenses like the ones Arkansas and LSU will put on the field.
A few years ago, there were doubts about Foster's future as a potential signal caller for the defense. After seeing him more at ease a season ago, most of those concerns have evaporated. One thing we do know: an inside linebacker has led Alabama in tackles during each of its four national championship seasons under Nick Saban. Foster will look to make it five in 2016.
In terms of pure potential, Reuben Foster could be the highest drafted of any of the historically amazing lineage of Alabama middle linebackers under Nick Saban. He's a quick twitch athlete with speed rarely seen of an inside linebacker, especially one of his size and physicality. He can cover the pass just as well as he can decleat hapless running backs. If he can embrace the mental side of being the middle man of the defense and overcome his occasional issues of playing too aggressive and overpursuing, the sky is the limit for him.
Asked as a followup if Lacy had lost enough weight in the offseason, McCarthy answered: "I'm just going to be frank here: I'm done talking about people's weight. I've never put a guy's individual weight in the media. That's not something to talk about, and in Eddie's particular case, I've talked enough about his weight."
Have you ever seen the media latch onto an idea and hold it for as long as they have about Eddie Lacy's weight? This has been a story line since 2013, and it won't go away. Looks like coach McCarthy is tired of hearing about it.
On Tuesday, the Tigers reached out to Bailey - who just finished his eighth grade year - with a verbal scholarship offer. And LSU isn't the first team to the party. Bailey already holds offers from eight schools, including SEC teams like Georgia, Alabama, Florida and Ole Miss.
Ridiculous. The kid probably hasn't even fully hit puberty yet. For all they know, he could grow out instead of up, or lose all hand-eye coordination with a growth spurt. I just can't imagine thinking that offering someone that young was ever a good idea.