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In the first quarter of the 2011 season, Trey DePriest served notice that he was going to make an impact on the University of Alabama football team.
A violent impact.
The freshman linebacker from Springfield, Ohio, flew down the field on the third kickoff of UA's season opener against Kent State and hammered returner Darius Polk into the turf at Bryant-Denny Stadium. It was the first of 25 tackles the 6-foot-2, 242-pound freshman made in a season that saw him rise from special teams star to a key backup role on the Crimson Tide's national championship defense.
"In high school, it's more of a 'ooh.' When you get here, it's 'Oooooooh,' like real loud, with a whole bunch of people there," DePriest said in New Orleans a few days before the Bowl Championship Series national title game, recalling that first big hit.
Read Tommy Deas' column here.
With Courtney Upshaw and Dont'a Hightower headed for the NFL, Alabama needs someone to step up and fill big shoes at the linebacker positions. DePriest, a rising sophomore in 2012, needs to get bigger and smarter before he's the heir apparent. But Deas' column paints a picture of a rapidly developing star.
Read his quotes about what he's had to learn since stepping on campus one year ago this week.