DB Mark Barron
9-10-11 at Penn State
9-24-11 ARKANSAS
10-1-11 at Florida
10-15-11 at Mississippi
10-22-11 TENNESSEE
11-12-11 at Mississippi State
11-26-11 at Auburn
Coach: Nick Saban
38-11, 4 years

2010 Statistics

2010 RESULTS: 10-3
at Duke WON 62-13
at Arkansas WON 24-20
at South Carolina LOST 21-35
at Tennessee WON 41-10
at Louisiana State LOST 21-24
Michigan State WON 49-7

2010 Final Rankings
AP-10, Coaches-11, BCS-16


Perusing this depth chart makes it quite plain to see that Alabama has an overwhelming abundance of talent, much of it still young and inexperienced, some of it not. The main issues facing this upcoming campaign will be mostly offensive. While the quarterback competition between A.J. McCarron and Phillip Sims will dominate most of the front-page headlines other position battles are just as critical. Granted the offensive line has four returning starters. But they won't prove capable if they cannot locate a pass blocking tackle on the left side. The new quarterback, regardless of which one, will not be put in a position to succeed if looking over his left side for the pass rush becomes the norm. Also essential is discovering anything that can remotely resemble the production of lost receiver Julio Jones. Experience is thin with the pass catching unit. Look for Bama to do what they are built for...run with the pigskin. Keeping Richardson healthy for an entire season will be a major key. Not that his back ups are lacking in talent; they just don't possess the power and slash combination needed to implement a dominating “every down” running system.

Bottom line, this team is going to win with defense. The back seven on this side of the ball is tops, not just by a measurable SEC standard but also on a national scale as well. Recruiting has paid huge dividends and this is one area where depth will be extremely evident. Figuratively, some low scoring affairs are in store with this team. And this defense is more than capable of keeping the wins flowing in such a scenario. Last year there were 10 seniors in this line up. This year there are 20. While the experience factor across the board is much better, especially in the secondary, there have been significant changes that include some new position coaches. Most noticeable however is the loss of four key players who were critical in the Tide's success the past two years. Julio Jones, Greg McElroy, Mark Ingram and Marcell Dareus cannot easily be replaced despite all the young talent in Tuscaloosa. These were prime time performers at the highest profile positions.

In the first month of play Penn State, Arkansas and Florida dot the schedule. It would not be surprising to see both quarterbacks during this early run, a daunting task for any first time starter. This is a stretch that more than likely will define this team...long before November gets here.

Alabama will obviously continue to be a part of the national championship discussion. So much talent abounds on this squad. Coach Saban has been able to reel in the best of the best southern high school talent. The proof will be in the Saturday pudding.

Projected 2011 record: 10-2

OG Barrett Jones
2010 Statistical Rankings
Total Off:
Sacks Allow:
Total Def:

Passing: A.J. McCarron, 30-48-0, 389 yds., 3 TD

Rushing: Trent Richardson, 112 att., 700 yds., 6 TD

Receiving: Marquis Maze, 38 rec., 557 yds., 3 TD

Scoring: Jeremy Shelley, 12-16 FG, 50-51 PAT, 86 pts.

Punting: Cody Mandell, 41 punts, 39.2 avg.

Kicking: Jeremy Shelley, 12-16 FG, 50-51 PAT, 86 pts.

Tackles: Mark Barron, 75 tot., 54 solo

Sacks: Courtney Upshaw, 7 sacks

Interceptions: Robert Lester, 8 for 102 yds.

Kickoff Returns: Trent Richardson, 24 ret., 26.4 avg., 1 TD

Punt Returns: Marquis Maze, 21 ret., 12.7 avg., 0 TD


2011 College Football Preview
OFFENSE: Greg McElroy-QB, Preston Dial-HB, James Carpenter-OT, Mark Ingram-RB (NFL), Julio Jones-WR (NFL)
DEFENSE: Chavis Williams-SLB, Marcell Dareus-DE (NFL)

Let the race begin! The most anticipated off-season battle in maybe all of college football will take place in Tuscaloosa...behind center. Who replaces Greg McElroy, a national championship quarterback with 27 starts under his belt? The decision will come down to either A.J. McCarron, a U.S. Army All-American local product out of Mobile or Phillip Sims, the nation's No. 1 rated high school quarterback of 2009 according to SuperPrep magazine. Sims finished his high school career as the state of Virginia's career leader in passing yards and touchdown passes. McCarron has one more year of experience and is the only signal caller on the roster to have thrown a collegiate pass, albeit as a backup. Two passing talents such as this are rarely found on any campus at the same time. Coach Saban has told the press this race has no definitive timetable and will likely continue well into August practice, if not beyond that point. The hunch is that the one who makes the least amount of mistakes will see the field first, this is the calling card of the man required to operate a Bama team from behind center. New stand out recruit Phillip Ely out of Tampa Plant HS has enrolled early this spring to get in some quick experience. It's hard to imagine a true freshman stealing this spotlight for now barring injuries. Redshirt freshman Blake Sims has also moved to quarterback for the spring after spending last year at running back.

Trent Richardson is No. 1. After two years of running in the shadow of Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram, who decided to skip out early for the NFL, Richardson is now in a position to demonstrate why he was one of the most decorated players in Alabama's recruiting class of 2009. His frame (see photo), power and quick up field cut are an ideal fit for what Alabama has built their running game around. He is more than capable of handling the star role. The function this position plays in the Bama offense is immense and the Tide is in good hands. One of the other bigger question marks for this offense is who plays the back up role here. Eddie Lacy looks like the early prime candidate to spell Richardson when needed. His 7.2 yards per carry last fall looks impressive, but those numbers were not built with the game on the line. He too has a nice combination of size and speed, which makes him an effective compliment. Next in line could be either 240-pound punisher Jalston Fowler who excels at blocking or incoming five star recruit Dee Hart who has already enrolled in time for spring. At 187 pounds, Hart may not be quite ready yet to be that power back in the SEC Alabama likes to utilize, but the Orlando freshman's day is gonna come sooner than later.

The really bad news is that one of the best receivers in the history of Alabama football has moved on. Julio Jones represents the biggest void on this entire roster. He ranks at the top or close to every school receiving record and did it in just three years. The top guns will be Darius Hanks and Marquis Maze. Both of these seniors have seen extensive action in their college career and combined for 70 receptions for over 1000 yards last fall. Maze has proven to be a quality deep threat with shifty abilities. He also doubles as the teams top punt returner. Hanks may not be as nimble in comparison, but does possess a reliable set of hands. The rest of the group has yet to be recognized. One of these inexperienced receivers will have to emerge as a third option for this offense to make bigger strides. Brandon Gibson, Kenny Bell and Kevin Norwood saw limited time on the field in 2010. Between them they managed just nine receptions. Gibson has made contributions on special teams but after four years in the program has not yet been able to demonstrate why the Mobile native was one of the best players in the state coming out of high school. Behind them are about four to five players that could find their way into a back up role, but none have shown an ability to be counted on in the starting rotation.

Gone is Preston Dial who posted the best receiving numbers of his career last season. His leadership services will be missed. Three tight ends are back however with some game experience in Michael Williams, Brad Smelley and Chris Underwood. None have earned full-time starting duty or has seen the rigors a weekly SEC schedule can demand. The best blocker is considered to be Williams while Smelley tends to be found open more in the passing game. The competition here will be tight, which is a good concept for this offense. Will Alabama use more of the blocking/receiving two tight end sets of the past or utilize more of the three receiver formations? Should the latter be the case, the competition for playing time will get much more intense.

Alabama welcomes back four starters to the front line. This will be an extremely important aspect for this 2011 squad as the skill positions go through a reloading phase. The top blocker is Barrett Jones, one of the top interior linemen in all of college football. Center William Vlachos is not far behind in talent or award recognition. Combined with full-time starter Chance Warmack the middle of this interior appears to be stout. Right tackle appears to be in good hands as well. At 6'6 and 330 pounds, D.J. Fluker is the biggest man on the roster and displayed solid potential as a freshman last year although his first season was interrupted by a groin injury. If this group is only as strong as its weakest link then coaches have some work to do at left tackle where James Carpenter and his 27 consecutive starts need replaced. This is the primary pass protector where the SEC's best defensive ends will put the new guy to an ultimate test. The competition starts with Alfred McCullough who is the most game tested. McCullough saw time as a starter filling in for the injured Fluker last fall. JUCO transfer Aaron Douglas enrolled this January and coaches feel he may be a short team answer. Improvements have to be expected this year from a team that was 10th in the SEC in sacks allowed. That formula won't work for a new quarterback. If they can solidify that left tackle spot the offense will be in good shape. UPDATE (May 12): Offensive tackle Aaron Douglass has passed away in death. Our sincere condolences are handed out to his family and friends. NationalChamps.net will honor Aaron and leave his name on this depth chart through the 2011 football season.


RB Trent Richardson


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB A.J. McCarron-So (6-4, 190) Phillip Sims-RFr (6-2, 214)
RB Trent Richardson-Jr (5-11, 224) Eddie Lacy-So (6-0, 212)
HB Marquis Maze-Sr (5-10, 182) Kevin Norwood-So (6-2, 187)
WR Brandon Gibson-Sr (6-2, 196) DeAndrew White-RFr (6-0, 180)
WR Darius Hanks-Sr (6-0, 184) Kenny Bell-So (6-1, 172)
TE Michael Williams-Jr (6-6, 270) Chris Underwood-Sr (6-4, 238)
TE Brad Smelley-Sr (6-3, 227) Brian Vogler-RFr (6-7, 242)
OT Alfred McCullough-Sr (6-2, 309) Aaron Douglas-Jr (6-7, 275)
OG Chance Warmack-Jr (6-3, 310) John Michael Boswell-Sr (6-5,291)
C William Vlachos-Sr (6-1, 289) Tyler Love-Jr (6-6, 304)
OG Barrett Jones-Jr (6-4, 301) Anthony Steen-So (6-3, 292)
OT D.J. Fluker-So (6-6, 330) Arie Kouandijo-RFr (6-5, 335)
K Jeremy Shelley-Jr (5-10, 165) Cade Foster-So (6-1, 221)



New defensive line coach Chris Rumph has a good many bodies to experiment with this off-season. That's good news considering the Tide loves to rotate their linemen. Even some of the most dominant players are not on the field for every snap. The two proven studs are nose guard Josh Chapman and end Damion Square. Ever since subbing for Terrence Cody on a regular basis as a freshman, Chapman has been steady. And last fall he began to really demonstrate his talents. The ends will be under a microscope as coaches seek to replace legendary Marcell Dareus who left early to test his skills in the NFL. Damion Square managed three sacks last fall and is hoping to fill some of the Dareus void. Kerry Murphy saw part-time action last fall but missed spring practice due to medical reasons. One of the players needing to step us is Ed Stinson who switched from linebacker to end late last season. Six other reserves are looking to compete for their first time on the field. JUCO transfers Quinton Dial (East Mississippi Community College) and Jesse Williams (Arizona Western Community College) are expected to compete for playing time with a solid spring. The sheer numbers are good while the experience factor may not be so great. Expect Chapman to be a dominant force in the middle.

Led by Dont'a Hightower and Courtney Upshaw, this bunch has it all...depth, talent and experience. Hightower is admittedly regaining the form he lost due to a serious knee injury. In 2008 Hightower was a full-time starter as a true freshman then tore his ACL during the early part of the 2009 season. If it is true that Hightower is now back to 100% this spells major trouble for opposing defenses. Upshaw manages the JACK position as a cover man slash pass rushing specialist. He is the teams returning sack leader and has been a dominant force in games he played last fall when not hampered by an ankle injury. On the inside Nico Johnson and star of the freshmen class C.J. Mosley split time together by mid-season. Both appear to be battle tested. The main question is who will emerge as a starter on the strong side, although this position does not see the field quite as often. Senior Jerrell Harris seems to be the best bet for seeing the most time here after four years in the system.

Last spring this unit had to completely rebuild at most every single position outside of safety Mark Barron. This time around the opposite is true as the ENTIRE secondary returns in tact. Three players in this backfield are worthy of All-American status too. Barron is still the staple, although he will continue to rehabilitate from surgery to repair a torn pectoral muscle tear. He will be ready to go full tilt come fall. At the other safety spot is Robert Lester. As a first year starter in 2010, Lester led the SEC with eight interceptions while Barron led the team in tackles. How is that for a safety tandem? On the corner, All-SEC performer Dre Kirkpatrick displayed the talents that made the Gadsden product one of the top overall players in the 2009 recruiting class. On the other corner is returning starter Dee Milliner, another in-state product who was rated the No. 1 cornerback in the nation out of high school by most services. Amazingly, all four of these starters are Alabama high school products. No wonder this state has produced the last two national champions. Nickleback DeQuan McKenzie returns for his senior year after seeing extensive action last fall. The back ups are just as comparable in regards to high school accolades. This secondary is shaping up to be a complete beast for opposing offenses.


LB Dont'a Hightower


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Ed Stinson-So (6-4, 252) Undra Billingsley-Jr (6-2, 269)
NT Josh Chapman-Sr (6-1, 310) Nick Gentry-Sr (6-1, 282)
DE Damion Square-Jr (6-3, 284) Kerry Murphy-Jr (6-4, 319)
SLB Jerrell Harris-Sr (6-3, 231) Alex Watkins-Sr (6-3, 232)
MLB C.J. Mosley-So (6-2, 225) Nico Johnson-Jr (6-3, 238)
WLB Dont'a Hightower-Jr (6-4, 258) Chris Jordan-Sr (6-3, 232)
JACK Courtney Upshaw-Sr (6-2, 263) Alex Watkins-Sr (6-3, 232)
CB Dre Kirkpatrick-Jr (6-3, 190) Phelon Jones-Sr (5-11, 199)
CB Dee Milliner-So (6-1, 182) DeQuan Menzie-Sr (6-0, 195)
SS Mark Barron-Sr (6-2, 210) Will Lowery-Jr (5-10, 188)
FS Robert Lester-Jr (6-2, 206) Jarrick Williams-So (6-1, 203)
P Cody Mandell-So (6-4, 201) Jay Williams-RFr (6-3, 208)




Everybody is back. The kicking game has tons of room for improvement though. Kickers Cade Foster and Jeremy Shelley each have one season of starting experience. Shelly handles the short attempts and Foster the longer ones. Both have been effective and coaches appear comfortable utilizing both. Punter Cody Mandell has the leg for booming long kicks but inconsistency issues need some ironing out. His meager 39.2 average hurt this team at times late in the season. Jay Williams lost his punting job last year in the spring. Can he regain the starting role this time around? Top receiver Marquis Maze appears poised to continue returning punts. Richardson was a better than solid kick return specialist last fall taking one into the end zone for six points. Whether or not coaches choose to leave him here given his importance at running back remains to be seen. That was never an issue for Julio Jones last season. He is gone...the only true starter not returning to these special team units.