By Dan Kelley on June 20, 2014
Nobody in college football reloads quite like the Alabama Crimson Tide. Nick Saban's squad has plenty of talent to replace in 2014, including QB AJ McCarron, but nobody really doubts that the Crimson Tide will continue to be contenders. Here are five players who could be heading for breakout seasons as Alabama eyes another SEC and national championship.
As a freshman last season, OJ Howard pulled in 14 receptions for 269 yards and two touchdowns. This year, Howard should emerge as one of Alabama’s most dangerous targets in the passing game. With Howard’s size (6’6, 237 lbs.), he should provide Alabama’s new starting quarterback with an excellent option in the red zone.
Early-enrollee Cameron Robinson has not won a starting job yet, as Saban rarely makes those decisions during the spring. But despite his status as a true freshman, Robinson looks like the likely pick to start at left tackle. The fact that he is even in the conversation to start at the most important spot along the offensive line speaks to Robinson's enormous potential.
Chris Black came to Alabama as a part of the recruiting class that included Amari Cooper. It is almost hard to believe now that Black was considered by many to be a more impressive prospect that Cooper. But an injury forced Black to redshirt two years ago and he struggled to see the field in 2013, thanks to Alabama’s depth at the position. Black should finally have the opportunity to show the skills that made him an elite prospect this season.
The Crimson Tide are not in need of a new starting running back with T.J. Yeldon returning for a shot at the school's rushing record. But as often as Alabama runs the ball, the No. 2 back is guaranteed to get plenty of carries. After Derrick Henry was inserted into that role before the Sugar Bowl, he turned in a dominant performance going for 100 yards and a touchdown on only eight rushing attempts, along with a 61-yard touchdown reception.
Jacob Coker has an NFL-caliber arm and had the potential to be one of the best quarterbacks in college football at Florida State. But because he had the misfortune of competing with Jameis Winston at FSU, the Alabama-native decided to return home and try for AJ McCarron’s old job. He will need to win the job first, but with talented receivers and the best group of running backs in the nation, Coker should find success with the Crimson Tide.
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