John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
For the Alabama Crimson Tide, the 2013 football season begins the quest for a third consecutive BCS National Championship. It also means the return of several players from season-ending injuries in 2012. Several of these players hope to contribute to the team and pick up where they left off.
Tomlinson suffered what he and his high school coaches called “a significant knee injury” while playing in a soccer game last April. In his November 15 press conference, Coach Nick Saban said Tomlinson has good quickness and may have played during the season if he was not recovering from the injury. Saban said the 6-foot-2, 266-pound defensive lineman has the quickness to play against spread teams like Texas A&M.
Considering Tomlinson injured his knee while playing in a soccer match, he possesses a great deal of quickness for a player with his size. With a year of rehab and Scott Cochran’s conditioning program, Tomlinson should get his fair share of playing time in 2013.
Freshman receiver Chris Black saw his 2012 season end in fall camp when he injured his shoulder during a scrimmage. Black enrolled in January 2012 to participate in spring practice. During the last two spring scrimmages, the Alabama media relations department credits Black with five catches for 97 yards and a touchdown along with one kickoff return for 30 yards and a punt return for three yards.
Black’s talent gives fans reason to believe he will play in 2013. After Kenny Bell broke his left leg against Auburn, Saban asked Black and his family if they minded him losing his medical redshirt in order to play if needed against Georgia or Notre Dame. They approved the move, but he was finally not used during the championship games.
Junior safety Jarrick Williams tore his ACL during fall camp. Otherwise, he would have seen playing time in the 2012 secondary rotation. Williams played in mop-up duty and recorded five tackles in the 2011 season.
Williams’ 2013 participation depends on his rehab and the progression of younger safeties like Landon Collins and HaHa Clinton-Dix. If both players pass Williams on the depth chart, he will continue to play in mop-up duty.
The Crimson Tide saw its first season-ending injury during a game in the second week of the season when junior running back Jalston Fowler damaged his knee in the fourth quarter against Western Kentucky. Fowler looked to play a key role in the Crimson Tide offense by playing fullback and H-back for first-year offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier. In the first two games, Fowler ran the ball 11 times for 85 yards and caught one pass for six yards.
Given the timing of his injury, Fowler hopes to fully recover and contribute in 2013. During bowl preparations, a picture of Fowler rehabbing his knee surfaced, and many fans speculated he was ahead of schedule. Tide fans hope Fowler’s rehabilitation goes smoothly and look for him to pick up his contributions to the Alabama offense.
During the Ole Miss game on September 29, Alabama lost two offensive weapons. Sophomore wide receiver DeAndrew White was the first player to go down in the game. White suffered a knee injury according to Coach Nick Saban. In his two seasons of play at Alabama, White showed some promise catching the ball. In the five games prior his injury, he made eight receptions for 105 yards and two touchdowns, beginning the season with a 51-yard touchdown reception against Michigan.
His injury allowed freshman Amari Cooper more playing time, and Cooper became a star wide receiver for the Crimson Tide. Depending on his recovery, White has the opportunity to continue to contribute to the offense. However, the depth at the position has never looked as great as it does now for the Crimson Tide.
Later in the Ole Miss game, redshirt freshman running back Dee Hart suffered his second knee injury in two years. Hart missed the 2011 season due to a torn ACL during summer workouts. Prior to his injury, he served as Alabama’s third running back behind Eddie Lacy and T.J. Yeldon. His playing time increased after Jalston Fowler’s injury.
Hart’s stats for the five games were 21 carries for 88 yards and two catches for 18 yards. Unfortunately for him, Hart faces an uphill battle by trying to recover from his second knee injury in two seasons along with a talent-filled backfield.
The most untimely injury for the 2012 Alabama team came against archrival Auburn when junior wide receiver Kenny Bell broke his leg while making a block. The 6-foot-1 speedster made big plays in Alabama’s passing game by catching 17 passes for 431 yards and three touchdowns.
Bell returned to practice the week prior to the BCS National Championship game, which was ahead of schedule. Alabama fans can expect Bell to continue to heal and be ready to continue to be a deep threat for the Crimson Tide.
As seen with all seven players, rehab plays a vital role in how the player does in returning to the Crimson Tide. Fans will want to shy away from high expectations for any of the seven, while hoping for the best from them all.
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