While Alabama's starting quarterback for the 2014 season may not be decided until days before the opener against West Virginia, the Crimson Tide's defensive leader has never been in question.
Senior linebacker Trey DePriest, who has started the past two seasons, has supplanted C.J. Mosley for that role.
"Trey has a lot of experience," Alabama coach Nick Saban said earlier this spring. "He's a very good player, and we need his leadership on defense. He's obviously going to become the signal caller, which I think everyone looks up to.
"He certainly has the knowledge, experience and maturity to affect other players in a positive way, and I think that's something that will be important to our defense."
Alabama worked out for two hours Monday, its ninth of 15 spring practices.
Taking over as the defensive leader is no big deal to DePriest, a 6-foot-2, 245-pounder from Springfield, Ohio. After all, it's not like he just set foot on campus.
DePriest arrived in 2011 as Scout.com's top middle linebacker nationally, and he quickly nabbed the second-team spot behind Dont'a Hightower. In his debut game against Kent State, DePriest led the Tide with 10 tackles and was honored as SEC freshman of the week.
"I've played for a while, and I think I've been around long enough to where I can handle the signals," DePriest told reporters recently. "I kind of split the role with C.J. last year, though he did the majority of it. When teams were going fast, he couldn't get it all communicated, so I helped."
Hightower had the biggest influence on DePriest, who emerged from a backup on Alabama's 2011 BCS championship team to start for the 2012 national champs. He tallied 59 tackles and four tackles for loss two years ago, and he amassed 65 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, two sacks, two fumble recoveries and an interception last season.
Alabama was 34-2 with two national championships from DePriest's debut game until last year's trip to Auburn, when the Crimson Tide lost 34-28 on the games's final play and then succumbed to Oklahoma 45-31 in the Sugar Bowl.
The Crimson Tide allowed a combined 822 yards to the Tigers and Sooners.
"We didn't finish the season like we wanted to," DePriest said. "The guys know that and have taken a different approach. We're trying to get back to the standard of how we do stuff."
Sophomore cornerback Eddie Jackson suffered ligament damage Saturday when he jumped for a ball and landed awkwardly during the Crimson Tide's first spring scrimmage.
"Eddie Jackson had an MRI Sunday which confirmed that he had ligament damage in his knee that required surgery," Saban said Monday in a released statement. "We have a great medical staff here, and he will have the full support of everyone in the organization as he goes through the rehab process. We are confident Eddie will make a full recovery and be ready to go this fall."
Saban said after the scrimmage that Jackson had been his most consistent corner this spring.
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