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Sunday, January 13, 2013
Offseason storylines: Super deep at WR

By Alex Scarborough

Editor's note: The season is over and the Alabama Crimson Tide are national champions yet again. But what happens next? TideNation examines the most pressing storylines of the offseason as the Tide gear up for another title defense.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Dee Milliner said it before he left for the NFL draft. The junior cornerback knew the kind of talent Alabama had at receiver then and what it would look like a year from now with quarterback AJ McCarron at the helm.

"When he comes back next year, that’s just even more experience on top of what he’s got now," Milliner said. "With the weapons we have at receiver, he can be unbelievable as a quarterback."

The future first-round pick continued: "Man, it’s going to be very interesting and very scary for opposing defenses. You’ve got a lot of guys that can go down the field, a vertical threat, and different guys that can go across the middle, just different guys that can do different things at all times."

Luckily for Milliner, he won't have to go up against the deep, talented group of receivers Alabama will have on campus this coming season. The Crimson Tide will welcome back eight players with the potential to contribute, not to mention a pair of incoming freshmen in Robert Foster, the No. 1 wide receiver prospect in the ESPN 150, and Raheem Falkins, a four-star receiver out of Louisiana.

Alabama Crimson Tide
Amari Cooper will be part of a deep receiving corps for Alabama in 2013.
Kevin Norwood, Amari Cooper and Christion Jones return as the incumbent starters, but Kenny Bell, DeAndrew White, Chris Black, Cyrus Jones and Marvin Shinn will all push for playing time.

The most vulnerable position is Christion Jones'. The sophomore was a much-needed threat from the slot but he struggled to hold onto passes at times and continued to look shaky in the punt return game. With all the buzz around Black, Jones could have a fight on his hands for the starting nod at slot receiver.

White and Bell will both be coming off of major injuries, though they appear on track to compete in spring and fall camp. Bell, who broke his leg against Auburn, recovered so quickly he was able to dress out during the national championship game. Shinn, who did not play much during the season, stepped in against Notre Dame and hauled in two catches.

With Michael Williams leaving and no clear-cut starter at tight end, might the staff look at moving Shinn to tight end? The redshirt freshman lined up at tight end some early in the season and could add weight to his 6-foot-3, 198-pound frame. It would certainly relieve some of the backlog at receiver.

How all the talent lines up is a major question heading into spring camp. Black, Christion Jones, Cyrus Jones and Bell all fit in at the slot, while Norwood, Cooper, White and Shinn are best suited to play on the outside. Offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier rotated personnel in this past season, but he'll have to do even more mixing and matching in 2013.

It might cause a headache to spread around the catches, but in the end it's a good problem for the coaching staff to have.