Alabama Football: After a third of spring sessions, what have we learned?

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 08: Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide talks to Mack Wilson
ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 08: Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide talks to Mack Wilson /
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Alabama football is one-third of the way through spring practice. Who looks good and what has been learned so far?

The most noticed events of the spring for Alabama football have been Tua’s broken finger and the absences of VanDarius Cowan. Though less noticed, other developments offer clues to the ’18 rebuild.

After missing the two previous sessions, Cowan was back on the field on Tuesday. Nick Saban publicly called out Cowan on Tuesday. Cowan’s return does not mean he is now on solid ground. Another strong inside linebacker is needed for 2018. Cowan could fill that role but Saban made it clear Cowan’s Tide future is contingent upon off-the-field performance and accountability.

Players doing their jobs

Other players deserve notice as they go about their jobs with increasing success. Insiders report that Raekwon Davis has dominated offensive linemen so far this spring. Apparently, Isaiah Buggs has not been far behind Davis.

Redshirt freshman Phidarian Mathis has been a bright spot on the defensive line. LaBryan Ray has looked great. Add in Quinnen Williams, Anfernee Jennings and the pass rushing duo of Christian Miller and Terrell Lewis and the Tide’s defensive front could terrorize opposing QB’s.

A consistently strong pass rush will benefit the development of the less experienced secondary. And there is more help on the way come June. If Christain Barmore gets to playing shape by August he can be a factor this fall. JUCO Tevita Musika is a ‘bigger’ question mark in terms of weight and conditioning. Add both to the rotation this fall and the Tide has no serious defensive line depth issues.

The other two position groups causing doubt are the offensive line and the secondary. It is too early to glean too much on o-line performance. We need to see how they do during the scrimmages on April 7th and 14th.

The secondary seems to be progressing nicely. Based on the five practice sessions, there is competition but also some clear leaders. It is looking like Deionte Thompson and Xavier McKinney will be the safeties. So far, the corners are Saivion Smith and Trevon Diggs. Shyheim Carter and Kyriq McDonald will battle for the starting Star role. At Money, Daniel Wright will try to hold off Jared Mayden.

That’s eight guys for six slots, even before super-freshman Patrick Surtain Jr. arrives this summer. Much like the d-line, it is looking like the Tide secondary will have plenty of depth in 2018.

Plenty of competition for two-deep roles

Can other players break though positional logjams this spring and in fall camp? Absolutely they can. Pass-rushing specialist, freshman Eyabi Anoma will be hard to keep off the field. With able and experienced pass rushers, it would not be a shock to see Anoma given a shot at inside linebacker.

Next: Ranking the Saban QB's

Alabama football will work off the field on Friday and then take two days off for Easter. Nick Saban will be getting a little break, assisting the Easter Bunny with his granddaughter.