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Tide enter spring practice expecting fierce competition at wide receiver and safety

Alabama receiver Chris Black skies for a ball during a practice drill (Photo: YouTube)
Alabama receiver Chris Black skies for a ball during a practice drill (Photo: YouTube)

(Editor’s note: This article is the second in a series previewing Alabama’s spring football practice. Check out the first installment for the scoop on who’s battling for time at QB and O-Line.)

Receiver:


Losing all three starting receivers from a year ago, the Tide coaching staff must rely on some inexperienced players to step up and become consistent playmakers for the 2015 offense. Who are the most likely candidates to fill the shoes of Amari Cooper and DeAndrew White?

Chris Black – Rs Junior, 5’11” 186
Black is primarily a slot receiver and is the most likely candidate to lock that spot down in 2015. He has great quickness and is the most experienced of the Tide’s returning options at receiver. With the ball likely to be spread around more evenly this season now that Amari Cooper is moving on to the NFL, Black has the ability to make explosive plays from the slot position. He was fifth on the team in receiving last year, totaling 15 receptions for 188 yards.

ArDarius Stewart – Rs Sophomore, 6’0″ 193
Stewart is a versatile receiver with great hands and is elusive after the catch. A few different times last season we saw Lane Kiffin use Stewart similarly to how he used Cooper, by moving him around and creating tough matchup’s for the defense. Could Kiffin be grooming Stewart to fill that role in the offense? It is definitely something to keep an eye on throughout the spring. Stewart caught 12 passes for 149 yards in 2014.

Robert Foster – Rs Sophomore, 6’3″ 191
Foster possesses a unique combination of size and speed, and has the potential to be an elite receiver. In what may come as a surprise to many, Foster is actually the fastest player on the Alabama roster this spring. Things seem to finally be clicking mentally for the sophomore from Monaca, Pa., and if that is indeed the case, he could be a breakout player in the SEC.

Cam Sims – Sophomore, 6’4″ 210
Sims saw action in every game in 2014 and will look to develop a bigger role this spring. He is not going to wow you after the catch, but he does have the ability to be a reliable target. He also excels as a run blocker, which is an overlooked, yet vitally important aspect of the receiver position.

Safety:


On an otherwise experienced defense, The Tide must replace both Landon Collins and Nick Perry at the safety position. This competition will be wide open.

Geno Smith – Senior, 6’0″ 197
Smith started in 2014 at what Bama calls the “star” position, covering the slot receiver, and also spent time at safety in certain defensive packages early last season. It remains to be seen if he will stay at the star position, or be moved to one of the open safety spots. We will likely see him spend time at both positions throughout the spring.

Jabriel Washington – Rs Senior 5’11” 183
Washington was used at safety for most of the 2014 season as the sixth defensive back in the dime defense. With the most game experience at safety of anyone on the team, it is a safe bet that he will be right in the thick of the battle, but he’ll have his work cut out for him if he wants to win a starting job.

Hootie Jones – Sophomore, 6’2″ 221
Hootie has a great chance to fill the role of Landon Collins at the “money” position in the Tide’s dime defense. He will also compete for the starting job at one of the two safety spots.

Ronnie Harrison – Freshman, 6’2″ 200
Harrison is part of the 2015 recruiting class and will benefit from his decision to enroll early and go through spring practice as a true freshman. Alabama’s complicated defensive scheme has not been conducive to true freshman starters in the secondary. If Harrison is able to pick the defense up mentally, he will have a great chance to win a starting spot in the fall.

We have covered the more wide open position battles, but several other positions will be fought for during spring practice. Who will win the mike linebacker position between Reuben Foster and Shaun Dion Hamilton? Who will fill the void left by Jalston Fowler at fullback/h-back? Will Bradley Sylve, Tony Brown, or Marlon Humphrey challenge Eddie Jackson at corner? Several questions that will make for an intriguing spring season for Crimson Tide fans.

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