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. 41 Kurt Freitag
Redshirt freshman H-back
Expectations for 2013: With Michael Williams firmly entrenched at tight end and the depth chart crowded behind him at H-back, Freitag was forced to wait in the wings and redshirt during the 2012-13 season. But with Williams now gone to the NFL and a full year of practice under his belt, it's time for Freitag to begin his ascent at H-back, where he'll have a chance to back up presumptive starter Harrison Jones and see the field in clean-up time.
Best-case scenario: While it's unlikely that Freitag will develop into a starter overnight, he does have the edge on some of his competitors in terms of raw tools. Jones is capable but not overpowering at H-back in terms of athleticism, Jalston Fowler isn't a natural when it comes to blocking and the technical aspects of route running and O.J. Howard is just beginning to learn the position at the college level. If Freitag can be the bruising H-back Alabama has missed, he could carve out a niche for himself sooner rather than later.
Worst-case scenario: A bruising H-back might not be exactly what offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier is looking for moving forward, though. As Nussmeier continues to open up the offense and utilize athletes at different positions, one has to wonder where a pure tight end/H-back such as Freitag fits in. Whether he can beat out more skilled players like Fowler, Howard and possibly true freshman Derrick Henry remains to be seen.
Future impact: There will, however, always be a need for players like Freitag in goal-line and red-zone situations. The jumbo package isn't going away anytime soon. After all, this is Nick Saban's team, and he's as old school as it gets these days. At the least, Freitag will have the next four years to contribute as a backup tight end/H-back and on special teams.