Alabama Crimson Tide: Tyler Hayes

Editor’s note: Every Tuesday and Thursday between now and national signing day, TideNation will review each position and look at who figures to start, who could rise up the depth chart and who might be on the way. Today we’ll look at the specialists.

Editor's note: From now until signing day, TideNation will examine the remaining uncommitted prospects still considering the University of Alabama. Today, we look at ESPN 150 linebacker Reuben Foster.


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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. -- There's a lot of good that could be said about the Alabama defense of 2012. It was strikingly efficient and balanced. The Tide finished No. 1 against the run nationally and No. 7 against the pass. They gave up the fewest points per game in the country and put a bow on it all with a dominating performance against Notre Dame in the BCS National Championship.

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Forecasting the Tide: Linebacker 

December, 27, 2012
12/27/12
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Editor’s note: Every Tuesday and Thursday between now and national signing day, TideNation will review each position and look at who figures to start, who could rise up the depth chart and who might be on the way. Today we’ll look at the linebackers.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Alabama didn't lack for options at linebacker this season. What the Crimson Tide lost in experience from a year ago, it made up for with depth. Their best and most productive linebacker wasn't even a starter technically.

C.J. Mosley, the junior inside linebacker who leads the team with 99 tackles, wasn't the clear-cut No. 1 at his position. Instead, he shared time with either Nico Johnson or Trey DePriest depending on the formation and down and distance. Next season he won't have to. It's part of the reason why he put the NFL on hold and announced last week that he would return for his senior season.

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Down goes No. 1.

The defending BCS champions and the nation's top-ranked team, the Alabama Crimson Tide were upset by No. 15 Texas A&M 29-24 on Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium.

The Aggies jumped out to a 20-0 lead behind their high-powered, up-tempo offense and a strong defensive start and hung on in the second half, never relinquishing the lead even when it appeared the Crimson Tide were on the verge of going ahead. Let's take a look at the high points from the thriller:

It was over when: Alabama linebacker Tyler Hayes committed a neutral-zone infraction when the Aggies were lining up to punt it away to the Crimson Tide with 40 seconds left. The penalty gave Texas A&M a first down and the Aggies took a knee to seal the win, as the Crimson Tide had no timeouts to stop the clock.

Game ball goes to: Johnny Manziel. Really, you could give it to a lot of guys (the Aggies' offensive line, senior receiver Ryan Swope and the defense made some big plays) but Manziel is the straw that stirred Texas A&M's drink -- and has all season. He finished 24-of-31 passing for 253 yards, 2 touchdowns and, most importantly, zero interceptions. He also made plays with his feet, rushing for 92 yards on 18 carries (he has now surpassed 1,000 rushing yards on the season). He took care of the ball, made good throws, extended plays and played about as well as you can expect a redshirt freshman to in that environment.

Key stat: 3-0. The turnover margin. Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron threw two interceptions, including one on the Crimson Tide's final offensive drive, and the Tide also fumbled once when T.J. Yeldon coughed it up at the Aggies' 38, killing a potential scoring drive. The Aggies scored on the ensuing drive to take a 29-17 lead. The Aggies' loss to LSU on Oct. 29 was marred by five turnovers. This time, they flipped the script.

Key play: Sophomore cornerback Deshazor Everett's interception with 1:36 to go. On fourth-and-goal from the 2 and needing a touchdown, McCarron tried to hit receiver Kenny Bell on a short out route near the pylon, but Everett stepped in front of Bell and intercepted the pass to get the ball back for the Aggies and kill the Crimson Tide's drive.

What it means: The Crimson Tide's (9-1, 6-1 SEC) BCS Championship Game hopes took a huge hit with this loss. Three teams -- Oregon, Kansas State and Notre Dame -- could remain undefeated after their games on Saturday night and jump Alabama in the BCS standings. And on the flip side: Welcome to the SEC, Texas A&M. Many wondered whether the Aggies could compete in the SEC when they made the move to the country's premier football league. Not only have the Aggies (8-2, 5-2) shown they can compete, they've shown they can beat the best teams the league has to offer. Kevin Sumlin has this team peaking, and it could jump into the top 10 with this win. It's definitely a new era in College Station, Texas.

And this could also be a formal introduction into the Heisman Trophy race for Manziel.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- Alabama's true freshmen have wasted no time getting on the field and contributing in 2012. All told, a dozen first-year players have seen action through five games.

Given the news of starting wide receiver DeAndrew White's season-ending knee injury, coupled with the loss of backup running back Dee Hart to the same fate, prepare to hear more from the teenagers on campus.

Amari Cooper had already begun to take on more of a role at receiver, as have T.J. Yeldon and Kenyan Drake at running back. The losses of White and Hart make their rise on the depth chart official.

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Alabama coach Nick Saban took to the SEC's weekly teleconference on Wednesday morning to discuss this week's game against Ole Miss. While he was on the line, he talked about a number of issues, including the Rebels' up-tempo attack, the future of injury reports and how a few freshmen linebackers have improved this season.

1. Hurry-up issues

Saban isn't sleeping on Ole Miss' up-tempo offense and knows it's difficult to replicate in practice.

"Their hurry-up offense is really something that gets defensive players out of their comfort zone and we're working hard to get a picture of that and work on that," Saban said. "They've done a very good job of creating a lot of explosive plays for their really good skill guys."

Saban continued later in the call: "They also have pretty good players doing some of this stuff. They have really good speed, offensively, quarterbacks that do a good job executing what they do, a couple of wideouts who can make explosive plays. So this is a difficult preparation from the no-huddle part, but also from their ability to execute with some pretty good players.

2. NFL-style injury reports

Saban started off saying he didn't have an opinion on the desire for uniform injury reports, but went ahead and said what he thought anyways.

"If you're going to give injury reports, everyone should do them the same way," he said. "We kind of tell it like it is if he's going to be out.

"Even in the NFL, I think people manipulate the system to put questions in people's minds about whether a guy's going to play or not. I don't think it's imperative for the future of college football that we have an injury report. I'm not opposed to one if everyone has to do it the same way and it can be enforced."

3. Freshmen linebackers coming along

A number of freshmen have played at linebacker for Alabama in the first four weeks. From what Saban's seen, they're improving.

"[Denzel Devall] is playing a position that he's starting to develop confidence in what he's supposed to do," Saban said. "He's done a really good job for us and been productive, and we think he's going to be a really good player. We have confidence in being able to play him.

"Reggie Ragland was making really good progress and he was on a couple of special teams and got a high ankle sprain in the Michigan game, so he's just sort of getting back into it. We have high hopes for him.

"Tyler Hayes has gotten some playing time on special teams. All those guys have developed nicely for us and we're happy that they're making a contribution."

Second look: Bama 40, FAU 7 

September, 23, 2012
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- After 24 hours of digestion, analysis of No. 1 Alabama's 40-7 win over Florida Atlantic:

On offense ...
Doug Nussmeier absolutely gouged the FAU defense with crossing routes. The UA receivers showed their speed and ability to get yards after the catch on Saturday.

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Countdown to kickoff: 18

August, 14, 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. 18 and what it means to UA football. See all the previous editions here.

Since Nick Saban's arrival in Tuscaloosa, Ala., the University of Alabama has had an argument for often overused moniker of "Linebacker U." Just a few months ago, the Crimson Tide had two linebackers taken in the first 35 picks of the draft. Between the likes of Dont'a Hightower, Courtney Upshaw, Rolando McClain, DeMeco Ryans and Dwayne Rudd, UA has had more than two dozen first-team All-American linebackers in its history.

So when Reggie Ragland signed with the Tide in 2012, he immediately joined a prestigious class of linebackers. The No. 2 inside linebacker in the country put on No. 18 at Alabama and followed in the path of some of the game's greats.

But Ragland isn't the only high-profile linebacker to sign with Alabama out of high school. The depth chart is littered with four- and five-star recruits. Here's a breakdown of all the linebackers to sign with Alabama since 2008 and how they've ranked.

2012
Reggie Ragland -- No. 2 ILB
Dillion Lee -- No. 6 OLB
Ryan Anderson -- No. 7 OLB
Tyler Hayes -- No. 10 OLB
Denzel Devall -- No. 22 DE

2011
Trey DePriest -- No. 2 OLB
Xzavier Dickson -- No. 4 DE
Shannon Brown -- No. 13 ILB
Vinnie Sunseri -- No. 18 OLB
Brent Calloway -- No. 23 ATH

2010
C.J. Mosley -- No. 7 OLB
Jalston Fowler -- N/A OLB
Petey Smith -- N/A ILB

2009
Nico Johnson -- No. 2 ILB
Petey Smith -- No. 5 ILB
Tana Patrick -- No. 9 OLB
Jonathan Atchinson -- No. 14 OLB

2008
Courtney Upshaw -- No. 4 DE
Jerrell Harris -- No. 8 OLB
Chris Jordan -- No. 20 OLB
Dont'a Hightower -- No. 26 DE

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