TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Fall camp for Alabama football is one day away.
The Crimson Tide are slated to hit the field Thursday for the first practice of the 2017 season. Alabama’s annual Fan Day is scheduled for Saturday in Bryant-Denny Stadium.
This season, Alabama is looking to replace key pieces from its vaunted 2016 defense.
Players such as Minkah Fitzpatrick, Da’Ron Payne, Rashaan Evans, Ronnie Harrison, Anthony Averett and Shaun Dion Hamilton are expected to have big seasons, but who else can Alabama count on?
Here are five unsung defensive players who could have breakout seasons:
Trevon Diggs | CB
Diggs’ development could be one of the keys to the success for Alabama’s secondary and the defensive unit.
Diggs proved to be versatile as a true freshman last season, spitting time between safety and wide receiver before settling in at receiver. He also served as the Crimson Tide’s punt returner for much of the year.
This spring, Diggs worked at cornerback and has seen time with the first defensive group. He started at cornerback with the first-team defense during Alabama’s A-Day spring game.
Diggs was beat deep on a few occasions, but he continued to play hard throughout the scrimmage. If Diggs holds on to a starting role, it would allow Alabama to keep Minkah Fitzpatrick at safety where his leadership and play-making skills can be utilized.
Quinnen Williams | DL
Williams didn’t play as a true freshman, but he received rave reviews from his teammates for his scout team work.
Heading into his second year, signs point toward Williams playing a key role in Alabama’s defensive line rotation.
Williams has the size (6-foot-4, 265 pounds) to be effective against the run, as well as the speed and explosiveness to be a good pass rusher.
Alabama is going to need help along the defensive line with Jonathan Allen, Dalvin Tomlinson and Dakota Ball gone.
Hootie Jones | S
Jones played mostly special teams during his first two seasons before becoming a key member of the secondary as a junior last year.
Jones played in all 15 games and finished with 20 tackles, 5 pass breakups and 1 forced fumble.
This season, Jones could be a starter if Alabama decides to move Fitzpatrick from safety to cornerback. If not, Jones will serve as a safety in the Crimson Tide’s dime defensive package. He’ll also be a leader and a key contributor on special teams.
Josh Frazier | DL
Along with Da’Ron Payne, Frazier is the only other true nose tackle/guard type Alabama has. He’s going to be asked to spell Da’Ron Payne.
Frazier plays a big role when Alabama faces run-heavy teams like Arkansas and LSU. He also showed pass-rushing ability last season. Frazier played in 14 games and finished with 8 tackles and 1 sack.
Raekwon Davis | DL
As you can probably tell, its going to be important for Alabama’s defensive linemen to step up. Guys like Payne, Da’Shawn Hand and junior college transfer Isaiah Buggs are older and have experience.
But Alabama needs depth behind them. That’s where players like Williams, Frazier and Davis come in.
At 6-foot-7, Davis is one of the tallest players on the team.
In seven games, Davis had 4 tackles, 1 sack and 1 forced fumble as a true freshman last season.