Talent Tidal Wave
By BJ Bennett
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A look at Alabama's established and up-and-coming talent for the 2014 season.
Alabama, fresh off a disappointing Sugar Bowl loss to Oklahoma, is replacing a number of established veteran players. Talents like quarterback A.J. McCarron, lineman Cyrus Kouandjio, linebacker C.J. Mosley and safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix are preparing for their transitions to the next level. As usual, Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide are expecting to compete for college football's biggest prize. Here are those who will help take them there.
Landon Collins, S -- Collins has become an imposing force in the Alabama secondary. He finished second on the team in stops last season, first among defensive backs in the SEC West, adding two interceptions and a pair of forced fumbles. Collins is one of the top open-field tacklers in all of college football.
Amari Cooper, WR -- In two years in Tuscaloosa, Cooper has compiled 103 receptions for 1,735 yards and 15 touchdowns. He came one yard shy of a historic 1,000-yard season as a freshman. Last fall, Cooper had six grabs for 178 yards versus Auburn in the Iron Bowl and nine catches for 121 yards against Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl.
Trey DePriest, LB -- The torch has been passed on from Mosley; this is now DePriest's defense. The physical linebacker has ranked in the top three on the team in tackles in each of the last two years. He earned second-team All-SEC honors in 2013.
Arie Kouandjio, OG -- Cyrus' brother, Arie has the full skill set at 6'5'', 315 pounds. The fifth-year senior will take over a leadership role up front for the Crimson Tide and continue to open rushing lanes for Alabama's great rotation of backs.
T.J. Yeldon, RB -- From day one, Yeldon's production has been among the SEC's best. After 1,108 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2012, he improved to 1,235 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2013. Yeldon averaged over 123 yards per game in conference games a year ago.
Tony Brown, CB -- A true freshman early enrollee from Texas, Brown brings NFL size to the Crimson Tide secondary at 6'0'', 196 pounds. He is too talented to keep off the field, even with what returns, in the Alabama defensive backfield.
Jacob Coker, QB -- The Florida State transfer ultimately replaced A.J. McCarron at St. Paul's Episcopal in Mobile and will likely do the same now at Alabama. The 6'5'', 230-pound talent attempted 41 career passes for the Seminoles.
Derrick Henry, RB -- Joins Yeldon and Kenyan Drake in football's best backfield. Henry has a rare combination of size, speed and strength and averaged nearly eleven yards per carry on 35 attempts as a freshman.
O.J. Howard, TE -- At 6'6'', Howard brings elite athleticism to the tight end position. The Freshman All-American is a dynamic matchup problem and a big-play threat that can be lined up at multiple positions on the field.
A'Shawn Robinson, DL -- A mammoth defensive lineman standing 6'4'', 320 pounds, Robinson played immediately a year ago and compiled 38 tackles and eight tackles for loss. He, another Freshman All-American, added a blocked kick against Chattanooga.