During the summer, TideNation will analyze each of the scholarship players on the Alabama roster -- excluding the Tide's 2013 recruiting class -- in our Crimson Countdown series. Starting with No. 1 Dee Hart, we will go through the roster numerically, finishing with No. 99 Brandon Ivory.
No. 3 Vinnie Sunseri
Expectations for 2013: It's not a make-or-break year for Sunseri, but it's awfully close. A standout as a freshman in 2011, he took a step back as a sophomore, faltering in coverage a few too many times in key games. It was a clear indication again of where the junior's talents lie: in space, not one-on-one against a speedier receiver. Expect Sunseri to compete for a starting job but get rotated out depending on the situation. If it's a running team and he's needed near the line of scrimmage, he'll play significant reps. If it's a passing team that goes four- and five-wide, then he could be used sparingly.
Best-case scenario: He's got the experience and he has the trust of the coaching staff. For that alone, he'll have a leg up on Landon Collins for the starting safety spot opposite Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix. Sunseri has seen action in 27 of 27 games in his career, and he's shown in that time that he's capable of being a playmaker on the field. We've seen his nose for the football on special teams and we've seen it from a utility role on defense. The question is whether he can become a contributor on every down.
Worst-case scenario: The talent disparity between Collins and Sunseri is obvious. And while player rankings can be overrated, the difference between the No. 1 safety in his class and the No. 18 outside linebacker is fairly significant. Collins, of course, is the former in that scenario and Sunseri the latter, and this spring we got to see why as the former five-star prospect from Louisiana made big play after big play at A-Day. He'll push Sunseri and fellow safety Nick Perry for the starting job throughout the fall.
Future impact: Whether it's as a starter or a reserve, Sunseri will have an impact on the Tide for the next two seasons. What he does on special teams and from a leadership standpoint cannot be overvalued. There might be more talented guys on the roster, but the experience Sunseri brings to the table will be enough to keep him on the field in some form or fashion.