Monday, July 1, 2013
Crimson Countdown: Xzavier Dickson
By Alex Scarborough
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.
Alabama linebacker Xzavier Dickson sacked Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray twice in the SEC championship game last December.
Expectations for 2013: Dickson came into his own as a sophomore in 2012, starting all 14 games at the jack weakside linebacker position. His five tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks were not outstanding, but a strong close to the season with a career-best two sacks in the SEC championship game against Georgia indicate he might be close to turning the corner. The Georgia native will once again start at jack and could possibly see some time at defensive end as well in certain formations.
Best-case scenario: Physically, Dickson compares favorably to former Alabama great Courtney Upshaw, who starred at the same position through 2011. At 6-foot-3 and 265 pounds, he has the mobility to rush the passer and the size to seal the edge. As veteran defensive end Jeoffrey Pagan said, "He's really talented on the outside but then again he's also really talented on the inside. Xzavier could really line up either way. Wherever he's at, he's going to make an impact."
Worst-case scenario: A patella injury kept Dickson off the field for the tail end of spring practice and could cost him extra time to get back to 100 percent. Coach Nick Saban said in May that the other injured players would be ready by the middle of the month "except Dickson is going to take a little longer." If a sore knee lingers into fall camp it could open up competition where Denzel Devall or another outside linebacker could get involved.
Future impact: If Dickson can successfully play both the jack and defensive end positions, he'll prove a valuable commodity for the Tide through 2015. As more teams employ mobile quarterbacks and run the spread, having versatile athletes like Dickson are increasingly important to have on the field to limit the need for substitutions.