- Alex Scarborough, ESPN Staff Writer
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. 18 Reggie Ragland
Expectations for 2013: The former four-star prospect bided his time last season, playing primarily on special teams, where he racked up eight tackles while serving as understudy to Nico Johnson at inside linebacker. But now that Johnson has moved on to the NFL, it's time for Ragland to take on a similar role to his predecessor. While Ragland likely won't start or even share starting duties with C.J. Mosley, he will have plenty of opportunity to play, especially in running situations where his large frame (6-2, 259 pounds) will come in handy over the slighter Mosley, who barely cracks the 230-pound mark.
Best-case scenario: Ragland has been described as a "thumper" by the coaching staff, meaning the big-bodied linebacker knows how to pack a punch when he tackles you. Mosley told reporters this spring that "once he gets his turn he’s going to be a great linebacker." Should he settle into the scheme and show coaches he's dependable, he could become the top linebacker off the bench, spelling both Mosley and Trey DePriest while also earning time in certain packages.
Worst-case scenario: Mosley's praise of Ragland came with the always important caveat for young linebackers: "He's still learning the defense." The senior added that, "As long as he stays at his right size and keeps his head in the playbook, he’ll be a pretty good linebacker." Coach Nick Saban's defense is not an easy thing to learn. For some it comes quickly and for others it takes time to truly understand. As long as Ragland shows he's got the plays down, he'll see the field in a meaningful way. If he slips up and misses his assignments, he won't.
Future impact: Mosley will move on to the NFL after this season and there's a distinct possibility that DePriest could follow him out the door as an underclassman, leaving the door wide open for Ragland to start in 2014 and beyond.
1dGreg Ostendorf and Alex Scarborough