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Insider

A-Day: Five players to watch

4/13/2012

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- When the University of Alabama hits the field and breaks into Crimson vs. White on Saturday, all eyes will be on how far the players have come in the spring.

With so many starters gone from last year's championship team, this weekend's scrimmage will be the first look at how Alabama will fare in 2012.

With that in mind, here are five to watch when the action gets underway at Bryant-Denny Stadium:

Vinnie Sunseri: All the sophomore defensive back has done this spring is make plays. Through two scrimmages, Sunseri is second on the team with nine tackles, three tackles for loss, a sack, one pass breakup and an interception return for a touchdown. Right now, Sunseri and Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix are competing for the starting safety spot vacated by Mark Barron. If Sunseri continues to prove himself to be a playmaker in the secondary, he could land the No. 1 spot heading into fall practice.

Jalston Fowler: This is Fowler's shot to prove he can be the leading man at running back. He's had great production with limited carries the past two seasons, and with Eddie Lacy out for the spring, Fowler has a shot to leave an indelible impression on the coaching staff that could carry through the summer and into the fall.

Amari Cooper: Nick Saban has thrown Cooper's name out quite a bit in recent weeks when talking about receivers making an impression this spring. Cooper has the look of a prototypical receiver (6-foot-1, 185 pounds) and the speed to create separation. Either Cooper or fellow freshman Chris Black figures to be a big part of the Tide's success in 2012. On Saturday, we'll see first hand how well both have meshed with AJ McCarron and learned new offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier's playbook.

Jesse Williams: True, Williams is only moving a few feet to his right. But the difference between defensive end and nose guard is huge in Saban's defense. Williams will have to take on even more double- and triple-teams than he did last year and take on more responsibility in stopping the run. With three capable players pushing him -- Damion Square, Alphonse Taylor and Brandon Ivory -- it will be interesting to see how Williams has progressed in his new role.

Ryan Anderson: Word out of camp is that Anderson has been a beast rushing the passer from the jack position. The 6-foot-2, 252-pound true freshman has the size and versatility to become the next Courtney Upshaw, switching between a stand-up linebacker in coverage and a lineman rushing the edge. But with so many roles, there's a lot to learn. On Saturday, we'll get a glimpse into how well he understands the defense and whether he can be one of the playmakers on defense Saban has been looking for.