New starters to keep an eye onBy Mike Schwartz | 04/20/2017 12:43am
Cornerback Trevon Diggs has big shoes to fill as he replaces potential first round pick Marlon Humphrey.
After failing to capture their 17th national championship, the Alabama Crimson Tide look to recoup and march to their third straight college football playoff appearance. Once again, Alabama has sent a group of immensely talented players into this year's draft, leaving holes in the depth chart.
With spring practice beginning new faces on the squad have gotten their feet wet and have gotten their first look at the playbook. With A-Day approaching, players will get their first taste of the 2017 season at playing in Bryant-Denny in front of the Crimson Tide fans. Now that the 2017 season is officially underway, it is time to get a look at some of the players who will be looked on to fill the holes on both sides of the ball and establish new leadership.
Da’Shawn Hand, Defensive Line
The defensive line has been the backbone to Alabama’s success over the past few years and will most likely be a key factor once again. After losing star pass rushers like Ryan Anderson and Tim Williams on the outside, and the big boys in Jonathan Allen and Dalvin Tomlinson on the inside, head coach Nick Saban might need some new juice. The Pennsylvania native has collected just 44 tackles in his career but his workload should see a steep spike this year. Hand will have to be one of the newbies on the line to fill in to wreak havoc and make his way into the backfield.
Rashaan Evans, Linebacker
Due to the draft, Alabama lost the heart of the defense in linebacker Reuben Foster and replacing him will be no easy assignment. More than likely it will take a group effort account for not just his skill on the field but also the leadership he leaves behind. Although the group may not be the most experienced bunch, Rashaan Evans is more than capable of manning the position. Evans tallied a career high in tackles with 11 in the national championship game loss to Clemson.
Matt Womack, Offensive Tackle
The redshirt freshman will be providing depth to a what could be stout offensive line. Filling in the shoes of Cam Robinson will be no easy billing, but Womack will be slated into the starting lineup with a full season of film under his belt. Womack has been listed as the starter at the right tackle position, but his playing time will ultimately be up to as well as he plays. Naturally, the better the plays the more playing time he will accumulate, but with freshmen stud Alex Leatherwood looming in the background one slip up may cost him some time.
Mack Wilson, Linebacker
As mentioned, the linebacking crew will be without star Reuben Foster and Wilson figures to be another player to make up for the loss. Wilson, a five-star recruit out of high school, saw most of his time on the special teams last year, covering kicks and punts and picked up eight tackles along the way. Last year his versatility in the game was highlighted in the win over Western Kentucky as he saw time in at H back to block for the running back in a goal-to-go situation. Now he will be elevated to a possible starting role and will need to produce immediately.
Trevon Diggs, Cornerback
The wide-receiver-turned-cornerback has been one of the more intriguing players of the 2017 spring season. Diggs, who contributed mostly on special teams last season, switched to defense and is already working with the first team at his position. It has not been a secret that Diggs possesses a lot of raw talent and athleticism, so to see him have an impact is not a surprise. This weekend will be fans' first look at Diggs at his new position. He has big shoes to fill as he replaces potential first round pick Marlon Humphrey.