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March 2, 2011

2011 Spring Preview: WRs

2011 SPRING PREVIEW
TideSports.com breaks down the positions as spring countdown is on. RBs coming tomorrow.
Moving On: For three years, the impact of Alabama's wide receivers began, and at times ended, with Julio Jones. Now that No.8 is off to the NFL, there may not be a bigger void on the roster. Statistically, Jones ranks at or near the top of most UA receiving records, and he did it in three years rather than four. His leadership and blocking skills will be missed as well. Alabama also lost reserve Earl Alexander.

Moving forward: Darius Hanks and Marquis Maze, though both have extensive experience, will get more of a chance to show their skills with Jones gone. Maze has been a legitimate deep threat for the Crimson Tide for two years, but began to show signs of being a more complete player last year. Hanks isn't as difficult to tackle as Maze, but he has very reliable hands. The two combined for 70 receptions and over 1,000 receiving yards a year ago. Look for them to lead the receiving corps in the spring.

Moving up: A lengthy list of lesser experienced receivers will look to fill in whatever playing roles are available behind Maze and Hanks. Brandon Gibson, Kenny Bell and Kevin Norwood saw limited action last season, combining for just nine receptions. Gibson is also a valuable special teams contributor. Other candidates for playing time include redshirt freshmen Keiwone Malone and DeAndrew White, two smaller receivers reputed for their speed as recruits. Third-year sophomore Michael Bowman has worked at both receiver and tight end in practice, and it remains to be seen where he lines up in the spring. Moving day: 2010 wide receiver signee Ronald Carswell grayshirted last season and enrolled at Alabama in January. Carswell comes from the same prep program as former UA cornerback Kareem Jackson in Macon (Ga.) Westside.

WHO WILL STEP UP?
Marquis Maze (left) and Darius Hanks will be relied on with Julio's departure. (TideSports.com)
Moving day: 2010 wide receiver signee Ronald Carswell grayshirted last season and enrolled at Alabama in January. Carswell comes from the same prep program as former UA cornerback Kareem Jackson in Macon (Ga.) Westside.

Position overview: The bad news for Alabama is that there is no replacing Julio Jones. He was a one-of-a-kind player whose absence calls for UA's receiving corps as a whole to be redefined in 2011. The good news for the Crimson Tide is that Hanks and Maze are SEC-proven players, and both know what it's like to make a big catch in a big game. The question isn't so much 'Who will lead?' as it is 'Who will follow?' All but Hanks and Maze are anonymous to most SEC fans. Alabama needs at least one of those receivers to emerge as a third option this fall, and the spring is often where such moves are made.

Reach Chase Goodbread at chase@tidesports.com or at 205-722-0196. Follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ChaseGoodbread.



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