Editor’s note: Each day between now and Alabama's date with Notre Dame in the BCS National Championship, we will review the season for a key Crimson Tide player or coach and attempt to project what’s next for him. Today we’ll look at wide receiver Christion Jones.
No. 22 Christion Jones
25 receptions, 328 yards, 5 touchdowns
Role in 2012: Jones was the starting slot receiver and return specialist.
The good: The sophomore's speed did not disappoint. He became a matchup nightmare for defenses, which tried to employ linebackers in coverage to no avail. They were simply too slow to keep up with Jones, who was deadly in crossing patterns and post routes. If AJ McCarron had more than a few seconds in the pocket, he was likely to find Jones wide open in the middle of the field, splitting the safeties.
The bad: Jones' game didn't develop beyond his speed and quickness. He struggled making the everyday judgement calls on punt returns and had trouble dropping catchable passes at receiver. For such a capable athlete, he looked stiff at times, unable to get beyond the coverage by running crisp routes or outmaneuvering defenders.
Crystal ball: Despite his struggles, Jones is the leader in the clubhouse to return as the starting slot receiver next season. His experience will give him the upper hand, but he might encounter some competition in freshman Chris Black, who redshirted this season. Black is a former four-star prospect and top-5 receiver out of high school who possesses the same kind of traits that make Jones special -- speed, agility and quickness.