Friday, April 15, 2011
Exiting the spring: Alabama
By Edward Aschoff
Spring game: 3 p.m. ET on ESPNU and ESPN3.com
Questions answered: Julio Jones might not be out there anymore, but Alabama will still have a solid group of receivers this fall. Returning starters Marquis Maze and Darius Hanks have bee flying around this spring. Neither has the skill Jones had, but both will be formidable matchups for defenders this fall. Alabama should also be fine at running back without former Heisman winner Mark Ingram. Trent Richardson returns and he’s healthy, while newcomer Dee Hart has added a lot of speed to the position. Richardson not only has tremendous talent, but he has increased his leadership skills. This offense will be leaning on him quite a bit this season.
Questions unanswered: Greg McElroy is gone, but his replacement hasn’t been named. There are two guys -- A.J. McCarron and Phillip Sims -- still battling for the spot and it looks like a starter won’t be named until the fall. McCarron entered as the favorite, but Sims has made a major push this spring. Players have been pretty tight-lipped about the quarterback position, making Saturday’s spring game that much more interesting. Alabama’s secondary was an issue for the Tide in 2010 and this spring most of the unit was on the mend. Barron, Jarrick Williams, Dre Kirkpatrick and Nick Perry all dealt with injuries this spring. True evaluation of this unit won’t come until summer and fall workouts.
Spring stars: Hart was supposed to be getting ready for prom around this time, but instead he’ll be getting reps in Alabama’s spring game Saturday. Hart has played well in scrimmages and with his shiftiness and speed, he’ll add another element to Alabama’s bruising running game. Linebacker Dont’a Hightower seems to have his legs back this spring. After suffering a major knee injury in 2009 that even slowed him last year, Hightower has been solid in spring practices and is back to 100 percent. Linebacker C.J. Mosley made a ton of plays in scrimmages this spring. Receiver DeAndrew White was a bright spot on offense as well.
Of note: Defensive tackle Kerry Murphy, receiver Kendall Kelly and defensive back Wesley Neighbors missed spring practice with injuries. … Senior safety Mark Barron was limited as he recovered from surgery to repair a torn pectoral muscle. … Linebacker Alex Watkins underwent knee surgery that kept him out of the latter part of spring practices, but should ready for preseason camp in August. Former linebacker Ed Stinson is now at defensive end. ... Former Ohio State receiver Duron Carter, the son of Cris Carter, is finishing up at Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College and plans to enroll at Alabama in June and will be eligible next season.