Every year, football teams must reload and find new leadership on both sides of the ball. This season is no different for Alabama, as it has to replace many players who were important to the program.
The Crimson Tide will see a lot of new players step up and fill in leadership roles in the season to come. On the defensive line, Alabama lost A’Shawn Robinson and Jarran Reed who were two key components in a defense that was among the best in the country. Senior Dalvin Tomlinson believes the change in leadership on the line will take some adjustment.
“It is a different feel because I played alongside them (Reed and Robinson) for two to three years,” he said. “There is some new faces we have to get used to on the defensive line, but we are still a big family. It won’t be different for too much longer.”
Players, such as Tomlinson, senior Jonathan Allen and junior Da’Shawn Hand, will have to fill in and not only produce but stand out as leaders. Veterans need to increase their roles within the team but more importantly, become an example for the younger players at the same time.
“Leadership is something our team needs,” senior OJ Howard said. “Last year, we had great leadership. We need the same thing this year.”
Both Tomlinson and Howard expressed the importance of experience when taking over a leadership role on the team. Howard believes he has to step up as a senior to help players who are younger than him become comfortable in the system.
“We have to lead by example, do the right thing,” Howard said. “Leadership is going to play a big role this year and I think it starts with myself as one of the older guys.”
On the defensive side of the field, Howard said senior Reuben Foster has already taken over the role that Reggie Ragland played last year, calling the signals and anchoring the defense. Alabama’s middle linebacker position came with responsibility in the past, and Howard said that Foster has already taken initiative to be like his predecessors.
“He’s a leader over there,” Howard said. “He calls the plays and he calls the signals for them. He is moving sideline to sideline very well. He is a field general.”
Leadership can take time to develop and evolve. As the spring season marches into fall practice and the season opener, the Crimson Tide will need to have players, such as Howard and Foster, who the rest of the team can look to and learn from. Alabama coach Nick Saban said this team is just in the early stages of figuring out its identity and where its leaders will come from.
“Spring practice is like a project, it’s like building a new house,” he said. “We are building a new team. It has a beginning. There is a process that you have to do to build that.”
Source:: The Crimson White Sports