Alabama Crimson Tide: Jabriel Washington

The injury to Eddie Jackson is still reverberating through Alabama’s roster. The promising young cornerback, who was in position to start as a sophomore, tore his ACL during last weekend’s scrimmage, forcing him to miss the remainder of spring camp. On Tuesday, he was seen in crutches awkwardly stepping into a crimson SUV that carried him away from the football facilities where his teammates were practicing.

With Jackson gone, others have had to step up.

[+] EnlargeEddie Jackson
AP Photo/Dave MartinAlabama will miss cornerback Eddie Jackson, who tore his ACL in a scrimmage.
Alabama’s depth at cornerback was already suspect. Deion Belue, a two-year starter, and John Fulton, a top reserve, have both graduated and moved on. The three most veteran options still at the position -- Cyrus Jones, Bradley Sylve and Jabriel Washington -- have combined for eight starts in their careers. And to make matters worse, one of the talented young corners, Maurice Smith, has been banged up. According to coach Nick Saban, the true sophomore who played in 11 games and made one start last season “got a little bit of a concussion” and didn't participate in Saturday’s scrimmage.

So where does that leave the Crimson Tide?

If it were close to the start of the regular season, it would be called a nightmare. But since it’s the spring, it’s more of a sense of opportunity than apprehension. Thanks to a loosened depth chart, coaches will get a sneak peek at some even younger players.

Sylve, Jones and Washington will undoubtably get more reps, and so will players such as Anthony Averett, who redshirted last season, and Tony Brown, who enrolled early in January with the clear purpose of getting a head start during the spring.

According to Saban, Brown has gotten “a ton of reps.” And when you’re talking about a five-star athlete whom ESPN ranked as the No. 2 cornerback in the 2014 class, it’s easy to imagine the possibilities. His talent isn’t in question -- the two-sport star runs track and is one of the more physically impressive corners on the football field -- but his experience has been the biggest hurdle. With more reps, he can close the gap between himself and the more veteran players at his position, clearing the way for a possible run at a starting job this fall.

Landon Collins, who was voted second-team All-SEC at safety last season, said he has seen Brown work hard this spring, “getting it quicker than most people get it.”

Nick Perry agreed. The senior safety was effusive in his praise of Brown earlier this spring, saying that he and fellow freshman safety Laurence 'Hootie' Jones were learning the defense “faster than I’ve seen any freshmen pick it up.”

“Tony is a great competitor,” Perry said. “He’s fast. He’s everything you want in a corner.”

According to Perry, expect to see Brown make a couple of plays this season.

Saturday’s scrimmage was a start for those such as Brown who might not have expected so many reps this spring. There will be ups and downs, Saban said, but overall “it’ll be a good learning experience for them.”

With Jackson gone, the time is now. Smith will be back at practice soon, but there’s no telling who will be next to go down during this final week of spring practice. If someone is sidelined, it might hurt the depth chart as a whole, but it will help certain players in particular.
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. 23 Jabriel Washington
Redshirt sophomore cornerback

Editor's note: Each week the TideNation staff will address an issue surrounding the Alabama football program. Today's question: Can a true freshman make an impact at cornerback this season?


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Recruiting Battles: Alabama vs. LSU 

October, 30, 2012
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The stage was set. It was the 2012 Under Armour All-American Game. With his whole family behind him, ESPN 150 safety Landon Collins prepared to make his college decision in front of the entire country, on national television.

“I’m going to go with ‘Roll Tide Roll,’ ” Collins said as he put on the Crimson Tide gloves to signify where he was going to school.

The decision came as a surprise to most people, including his own mother, because Collins is a native of Louisiana. He opted to take the road less traveled and attend the school two states over rather than the one in his own backyard.

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Recruiting battles: Tennessee vs. Alabama 

October, 16, 2012
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When Nick Saban arrived at the University of Alabama in 2007, he made it a point of emphasis to recruit the state of Tennessee and take what recruits he could away from the rival Volunteers. It didn’t take long to make his presence felt.

[+] EnlargeBarrett Jones
Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesAlabama center Barrett Jones is one of several high-profile players Nick Saban has recruited out of Tennessee.
In 2008, his first full recruiting class, Saban signed three Tennessee natives -- linebackers Don'ta Hightower and Chris Jordan and offensive lineman Barrett Jones.

Hightower now plays for the New England Patriots. Jones, who won the Outland Trophy a year ago, is expected to hear his name called in next year’s NFL draft, and Jordan battled several injuries but still made a contribution both on special teams and as a backup.

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- By the time halftime mercifully came at Razorback Stadium, the exits were the only thing Arkansas fans wanted to see. Alabama's throttling of Arkansas was enough to make the home crowd brave the hills of the Fayetteville campus and find their way back home.

[+] EnlargeKenyan Drake
Nelson Chenault/US PresswireKenyan Drake is vying to become the second option at running back behind T.J. Yeldon.
While Alabama built its lead, the stadium took on the feel of a spring scrimmage, a few fans dotting the stands while rookies took to the field with something to prove. What they missed, breaking down their tents and barbecues while Alabama won 52-0, was a glimpse at the future of the Crimson Tide.

In junk time, a number of first- and second-year players got a chance to not only play, but face an SEC opponent on the road.

Freshman Marvin Shinn had his first career reception, so did Danny Woodson Jr.

Denzel Devall recorded his first sack, as did D.J. Pettway.

The thrill of playing and hearing coach Nick Saban scream on the sidelines is an experience senior center Barrett Jones said is invaluable to freshmen.

The old hand on the Alabama roster sat on the sidelines Saturday and remembered where he got his start.

"The first game I ever played in was 2008 right here before I redshirted," Jones said. "It's such a really cool experience to get some of those younger guys in there."

Jones said getting reps with the first-team line and the backup quarterbacks could prove important, too. Starting quarterback AJ McCarron injured his hand during the game and Phillip Ely came in to spell him under center, followed by Blake Sims.

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Countdown to kickoff: 23

August, 9, 2012
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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. 23 and what it means to UA football. See all the previous editions here.

No. 23 Jabriel Washington didn't come to Tuscaloosa, Ala., with the hype of some of his fellow true freshmen in 2011, but that doesn't mean the Tennessee native isn't ready to make an impact in his second year at the Capstone.

Washington was listed as the No. 29 athlete in the ESPN rankings in 2011, and was slotted to play defensive back for the Crimson Tide. As a 5-foot-11, 165-pound freshman, he was one of the lightest players on the team. Only fellow defensive back Sam Kearns weighed less. Not coincidentally, Washington was redshirted and has put on some weight -- 17 pounds, according to the UA media guide.

Coach Nick Saban had this to say about Washington's place on the team at SEC media days in Hoover, Ala., last month:

"Jabriel has done a good job of developing, gotten bigger and stronger, had a really good spring," Saban said. "He's competing for a role at the cornerback position, maybe someone who can contribute at special teams and be a backup at corner."

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