Leadership key to not creating a 2010 repeat

In part one of this three-part series of columns, you (hopefully) read my take on the football team’s new class of young guys, which was highly positive, in summation.

This presents a problem. You could say the same about the 2010 team. You know, the one you tried to block from your memory forever. The team that had so much young talent in players such as offensive lineman D.J. Fluker, cornerback Dee Milliner, linebacker C.J. Mosley and wide receiver DeAndrew White.

The problem: They didn’t have the veteran guys to show them how it’s done.

With that comment, I mean absolutely no disrespect to players like Mark Ingram, Marcell Dareus and Greg McElroy. They did great things for the University of Alabama, and they will never be forgotten.

The catch is there weren’t enough of them.

The 2010 Alabama squad did not have enough of those leaders to successfully navigate the young team through the rigors of a Southeastern Conference season unscathed.

Have no fear. In spring practice, it looks like the 2012 team has just that.

Offensively, Barrett Jones is the anchor of the line in more ways than one. Not only is he the most proven producer on the team, receiving last season’s Outland Trophy, but he is also literally in the middle of the action after moving to center.

The center, often recognized as the quarterback of the offensive line, is the perfect spot to move a player like Jones, who can lead young talent like Cyrus Kouandjio to success.

From the quarterback of the O-line to the real quarterback, Alabama has an experienced player in AJ McCarron. With a year of experience under his belt, he is now going to be leading the offense as a seasoned veteran, as opposed to last year when he stepped into that role with four or five games left in the schedule, after he got accustomed to starting in the SEC.

Defensively, the Crimson Tide does have work to do. The Tide lost Courtney Upshaw, Dont’a Hightower, Dre Kirkpatrick and DeQuan Menzie, just to name a few big-name players. But, there is a core for Alabama to lean on.

Linebacker Nico Johnson and safety Robert Lester will both be redshirt seniors in the 2012 season, or in other words, as old as you can be in college football. Having that type of experience will be great for the Tide this season. When it comes to checks and play changes at the line of scrimmage just before the snap, Johnson fits the bill perfectly. It takes a certain amount of experience to get these skilled freshmen and sophomores in the right places to make plays, and Johnson has that experience.

As for Lester, no secondary is worth anything without a good backdrop, especially if that secondary is inexperienced at cornerback in a predominately man-to-man coverage system.

My point is this: If you didn’t opt-in for football tickets in an attempt to avoid a 2010-level heartbreak, not so fast, my friend.

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