The Alabama Crimson Tide is known for having one of the most athletic rosters in football year in and year out. 247 Sports has given Alabama the No. 1 ranked recruiting class for six straight years, and as a result the depth chart is littered with four and five star players. Most fans know the Calvin Ridley’s and the Reuben Foster’s, but there are plenty of potential contributors on the roster who stand to gain more recognition this season for their ability to play in different spots and their athletic ability.
“For us to have the kind of depth on our team that we need to have, we’re going to need some of these guys to step up for us in certain places, certain positions on the field,” Coach Nick Saban said.
One such player is redshirt freshman defensive back Kendall Sheffield. A former five-star recruit, Sheffield has seen some action during fall camp at corner back. Saban is looking for a cornerback to replace the departed Cyrus Jones opposite Marlon Humphrey, and Sheffield certainly has the talent to be that guy. He needs to show more than talent though to take the spot.
“I think we just keep trying to work reps, reps, reps, so that he can play his position with a little more naturally instinctive reactions,” Saban said. “He certainly has a lot of ability and we’re certainly trying to bring it out of him in every way we can. Right now it’s a work in progress and he is making progress.”
Another player that could step up and slide into that starting cornerback role is Minkah Fitzpatrick. Last season during his freshman campaign, Fitzpatrick almost exclusively played the “star” position, Saban’s name for the nickel back. Fitzpatrick has the versatility to play star or cornerback, and Saban said that he has done both so far this year. He’d prefer if Fitzpatrick didn’t have to switch between the two roles, but he’s confident that Fitzpatrick can do it if asked.
“He’s very versatile and he’s bright, he’s smart, he’s very conscientious, he works hard every day. So if there’s anybody who can do it, I think he’s certainly the right kind of guy to do it. That may be how we end up this year,” Saban said.
On the offensive side of the ball, tight end Brandon Greene can create mismatches with his combination of blocking, athleticism, and good hands. Last year, Greene oscillated between playing as an offensive linemen and the tight end position, but is firmly set as a tight end this season. O.J. Howard is entrenched as the number one tight end, but Saban sees room for Greene to use his versatility to become a valuable contributor.
“The guy is very athletic. Even though he’s not real fast, he’s got really good hands. He’s somebody you can throw the ball to and he can be hard to tackle,” Saban said. “That position was a concern for us a year ago. O.J. Howard always being an outstanding player and someone we could count on, but not having a second guy that could be a blocker and kind of a guy that could compliment him. I don’t think that’s an issue [this year].”
Speaking of the offensive line, Bradley Bozeman looks like he may be the starting right guard. He has worked in that role all of fall camp. However, right guard isn’t the only place Saban could play the redshirt junior. Bozeman has the ability to play at multiple positions on the offensive line, which is not always the easiest thing to do. For Saban to feel comfortable with the possibility of Bozeman playing at different spots shows that he thinks highly of him.
“He’s a tough guy. He really understands. He can play center, guard or tackle for us. So we’re really pleased with the progress he’s made. He gives us a lot of depth at a lot of different positions,” Saban said.
Source:: The Crimson White Sports