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College Football Preview: 3. Alabama Crimson Tide

3. Alabama Crimson Tide Returning Starters: 12 Returning Star: OT Barrett Jones Key Loss: RB Trent Richardson Player to Watch: RB Eddie Lacy The Crimson Tide dominated the college football landscape by having Trent Richardson run wild behind an experienced and talented offensive line and dominate on defense thanks to a suffocating, ball-hawking secondary. Though nine starters are gone from last year's national title team including Richardson, linebacker Courtney Upshaw and defensive leader Dont'a Hightower. Quarterback A.J. McCarron returns for his junior season. He isn't a stats machine but will get the job done and the Tide have never been a pass first team. Without Richardson in the backfield, they're definitely weaker but are hoping Eddie Lacy can fill in. Lacy is a hard runner but also has speed. I think he'll learn how to be a starter this season and next year can be a star. Jalston Fowler is the other back option for Alabama and has great speed. The Tide lost receiver Marquis Maze which stings but McCarron still has people to pass to. Junior Kenny Bell has good hands and had a strong sophomore season. I think he'll have a breakout third year. Junior Kevin Norwood is a talent and sophomore Christian Jones makes plays. Tight end Michael Williams is a good blocker and can be a safety blanket for McCarron who is still gaining confidence. The offensive line was one of the best in the nation last year and will be once more in 2012. It is headed by tackle Barrett Jones who was an All-American last season. Junior D.J. Fluker will block other pass rushers on the other side. Guard Chance Warmack will lead the way for Lacy and Fowler. The center position is a question after William Vlachos left. The defense is a lot weaker without Upshaw and Hightower but the line is still pretty strong. Senior Jesse Williams is pretty athletic and can hit hard. Senior Damion Square is a beast on the other side. The linebackers only return Nico Johnson. Johnson is good and makes plays all around the field. The rest of the starters will likely include Adrian Hubbard and junior C.J. Mosley. The secondary lost a lot also including Mark Barron and Dre Kirkpatrick. But safety Robert Lester will return for his senior season and may be the most talented defender. Will Lowery, John Fulton and junior Dee Milliner will probably fill in the other defensive back slots. Kicker Jeremy Shelley returns and has quite a leg. Heisman Hopeful: A.J. McCarron SEC Rank: 2nd

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