28 July 2010
The final member of the senior class is a linebacker who showed promise as a true freshman in 2007. He followed that up by recording a sack in the the Tide's 2008 opener against Clemson. And then he promptly disappeared for the next 27 games.
Chavis Williams - #55 - 6-4 - 223 lbs. - Dora, AL - Dora High School
In reality Chavis played in four more games in 2008, and another seven in 2009. But in the 12 games since his freshman season he has combined to record a total of three tackles, with the one sack and two hurries.
His freshman season didn't see him explode with big numbers, but he played in eight games as a true freshman for Nick Saban. He had just two total tackles in those eight games, but the simple fact that he was playing as a true freshman gave fans the impression that he would be a big contributor as he gained more experience.
And to be quite honest with you, I'm not exactly sure why it hasn't happened. Prior to the 2008 season the starter at the sam linebacker, Zeke Knight, was ruled medically unfit to play. That should have opened the door for Chavis to grab the starting spot and fulfill the potential he demonstrated the year before.
Instead he quickly fell behind Cory Reamer, who went on to start at the sam spot for the remainder of his career. While Reamer was an extremely solid player who notched 88 career tackles, I don't think you'd find many people who would argue that he is more athletically gifted than Chavis.
But Reamer had a full understanding of the defense and his role in it. And if I had to guess, I would say that is where Chavis has struggled. He is big enough for the position. He is fast enough for the position. He has the range of movement for the position. He simply isn't seeing the field. And under Nick Saban that is typically a sign that a player hasn't fully grasped the defensive scheme.
Whatever the reason, 2010 will be his final one in Tuscaloosa. There have certainly been other players who didn't fully come into their role until their senior season, but those guys are few and far between. Chavis had a good spring, but he had a good spring in 2009, also.
If Chavis was a junior, I would think that he was a strong candidate for attrition. But at this point, I can imagine that the coaching staff doesn't want to lose any more seniors. Not only do you need the leadership that seniors provide, but cutting the number of seniors also makes the numbers situation for next year even worse.
Despite the fact that this sounds mostly negative, Chavis has a pure rushing speed that very few other players on the team have. Eryk Anders parlayed that skill into being a a member of the rabbit rusher package in 2008 and starter in the 2009 season.
I don't expect we'll see Chavis beat out Jerrell Harris for the starting sam linebacker spot, but he could have a specialized role on the team. Harris is also the most likely candidate for the "money" position in Bama's nickel package, which could free up a spot for a pass rusher in that package. If that happens, Chavis could be the guy to lock down that spot.
Bama used its rabbit rusher group a lot in 2009, and I expect we'll see a lot of it in 2010, as well. The eligibility of Marcell Dareus could really throw a wrench in the Tide's base pass rush, so there might be more opportunity for other pass rushers to step up.
Otherwise, I expect that we'll see him play sparingly as the backup at the sam. He also has experience on the kick coverage unit, and could find his way onto the field in that role.
That's it for Bama's senior scholarship players - just nine guys. I expect we'll see five of them play a large role on the 2010 team, with the other four serving as backups. The junior class is 24 strong, and is littered with ridiculous talent.
We'll begin digging into those guys in the next few days.