Alabama Football: Crimson Tide Freshmen Who Will Star in 2013

Nate Levinson@@NateLevinsonCorrespondent IJuly 23, 2013

Jan 5, 2013; San Antonio, TX, USA; East running back Derrick Henry (2) runs for a touchdown against the West during U.S. Army All-American Bowl high school football game at the Alamodome. The East won 15-8. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

As always, expectations for the Alabama Crimson Tide football team are sky high this season, and if the team is to perform at a high level, it will need big contributions from incoming freshmen.

In 2012, wide receiver Amari Cooper and running back TJ Yeldon helped lead Alabama to a BCS National Championship.

This year, several freshmen are turning heads in spring practices.

Here's a look at three first-year players who could make an impact this season.

Derrick Henry-Running Back

Henry has been one of the most talked about people at Alabama's spring and summer workouts, and for good reason. 

Listed at 6'3" and 243 pounds, the running back is already one of the most physically imposing players on Alabama's roster.

His play has forced veteran players on the team to take notice, too. Senior linebacker CJ Mosely told Andrew Gribble of that Henry reminded him of "a bigger version of Trent Richardson.

For a team that already boasts one of the best running backs in football in TJ Yeldon, the prospect of adding another supremely talented runner should have opposing defenses worried.

OJ Howard-Tight End

Henry isn't the only former top recruit turning heads in Tuscaloosa, as OJ Howard,'s second ranked tight end recruit in the nation, has been a standout in practices thus far.

The freshman enrolled early and has done nothing but impress thus far.

Howard gives the Crimson Tide something they have sorely lacked in the Nick Saban era: a play-making tight end.

Last season's top tight end Michael Williams was known far more for his blocking in the run game and caught just 24 passes for 183 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Those are numbers that Howard could easily top this season.

As long as Howard is able to create good chemistry with quarterback AJ McCarron, he'll be a player to watch all season.

Luckily for Howard, McCarron seems to have taken a liking to him already, as the quarterback told Don Kausler Jr. of that the freshmen tight end has "been great" in summer workouts.

Dalvin Tomlinson-Defensive End

Dalvin Tomlinson missed all of last season due to a knee injury, but the redshirt freshman has done nothing but impress in spring and summer workouts and practices.

Head coach Nick Saban told Kausler Jr. of that Tomlinson is a "quick-twitch guy", also noting how Tomlinson's quickness might help the team better defend spread offenses.

Fellow defensive lineman Jeoffrey Pagan also went out of his way to praise the his fellow end, telling Alex Scarborough of that Tomlinson looks like a "different man" this season.

If Tomlinson can be the impact player coaches and players expect him to be, he could help this Alabama defense be one of the best in the country once again.


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