- Greg Ostendorf, ESPN Staff Writer
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- The University of Alabama will hold its first practice of fall camp on Friday morning, and there will be plenty of new faces in attendance. Of the 26 players in the Crimson Tide’s 2012 recruiting class, 18 will be seeing their first action in camp. Here are five names to keep an eye on as it gets closer to the first game.
1. Landon Collins (DB): There are not many players who can come in as a true freshman and play for Alabama’s defense. Collins might be one of those. Physically, he’s ready. He has the speed to make a quick transition to the college game, and he has football instincts beyond his age. The only question is where he fits into the rotation in the secondary. Long term, I think he takes over for Mark Barron as the hard-hitting safety. But this year he will have to compete with the likes of Ha’Sean Clinton-Dix, Robert Lester and Vinnie Sunseri for playing time. He might start out playing as a nickel back, but there’s a chance he takes over one of the safety spots by the end of the year.
2. Eddie Williams (WR): Similar to Collins, Williams is a physical gifted athlete. He could play just about anywhere on the field, but he’s projected to play wide receiver, a position he’s not very familiar with. In high school, he played primarily at quarterback and safety. Still, he’s 6-foot-4, and he has the capability to give Alabama that big target on the outside that it’s lacked since Julio Jones left for the NFL. Everybody’s been talking about Amari Cooper and the early impact he will make as a freshman, but if Williams gets acclimated to the offense quickly enough, he could add yet another weapon to AJ McCarron’s arsenal.
3. Alec Morris (QB): Nobody could’ve predicted Morris -- not even himself -- to be McCarron’s primary backup this season, but with the transfer of Phillip Sims in the spring, it’s now a real possibility. Morris arrived on campus this summer, and he expects to battle it out with sophomore quarterback Phillip Ely this fall for the No. 2 job. The Texas native was not ranked highly by any of the recruiting services, but the UA coaching staff likes his arm strength and the way he manages the game. Most Alabama don’t want to see Morris on the field this year unless the Tide have a big lead, but it will be interesting to see how he fares in fall camp.
4. Cyrus Jones (ATH): Behind Collins and Williams, who was the next best player to sign with Alabama in 2012, according to the ESPN 150 rankings? The answer: Cyrus Jones. Surprised? The Baltimore athlete has flown under the radar since signing with the Tide, but he has the opportunity to make a big splash this fall. However, nobody’s certain what position he will play, or if it will be on offense or defense. When he signed, he said the UA staff wanted to start him out at wide receiver, possibly in the slot, but he’s expected to wear No. 25 when camp starts tomorrow, giving an indication that he might start out at defense. We’ll know soon enough.
5. Adam Griffith (K): Everybody forgot about the kicking woes from a year ago after Jeremy Shelley made five field goals in the national championship game to defeat LSU. However, he also missed two field goals and an extra point in that game. Enter Griffith. The Calhoun, Ga., kicker routinely made field goals from 40 yards and beyond last year as a senior in high school. Can he translate that to the college game? I fully expect Shelley to still be the guy from 40 yards and in, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Griffith get the first crack at longer field goals, depending on how he performs in camp this fall.