Countdown to kickoff: 3

August, 29, 2012
8/29/12
6:16
AM ET
From now until kickoff in Arlington, Texas, we'll be counting down the days before Alabama and Michigan get the season started. Today, we move to No. 3 and what it means to UA football. See all the previous editions here.

The University of Alabama has a number of versatile players on the defensive side of the ball, but maybe none more so than No. 3 Vinnie Sunseri. The true sophomore, with his size and quickness, is able to roam the secondary and play off the ball or on the line of scrimmage.

Last season, he made a name for himself on special teams, delivering a number of big hits, and later on the defensive side of the ball filling in for an injured secondary. Coaches in the league thought so much of Sunseri that they voted him on the SEC All-Freshman team.

In his second year, things have changed. His father, Sal, left Alabama to become the defensive coordinator at Tennessee, and the sophomore finds himself a more integral part of the defense. Sunseri was named the co-starter at safety with Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix on Tuesday and is expected to continue seeing time at the star cornerback position.

Defensive coordinator Kirby Smart is optimistic Sunseri can help fill the void at safety left when Mark Barron went to the NFL.

"In terms of their intelligence level, ability, and Vinnie has done a great job adjusting to that role," Smart said. "He’s not Mark Barron and he’s not trying to be Mark Barron. He’s trying to be Vinnie, and he does that well. He calls us and makes some plays."

Despite being only a sophomore, cornerback Dee Milliner called Sunseri one of the leaders on defense.

"We always have a standard at Alabama," Sunseri said. "We want to be fast, strong, relentless. Stop the run, play everything right. We're definitely working hard trying to do everything the right way, how coach Saban wants it."

Alex Scarborough | email

Alabama/SEC reporter

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