Spring is the time to tinker with the roster, and Alabama head coach Nick Saban made a few key moves when spring practice opened for the Crimson Tide on Saturday.
One of which, according to Andrew Gribble of AL.com, is ArDarius Stewart's move from wide receiver to safety.
"We are probably going to spend two or three days looking at him as a defensive back, but this is very experimental," Saban said. "We're just trying to sort of find out whether he could play safety or not. He's not been moved to defensive back. This is a temporary, experimental, could-you-do-it-if-we-needed-you-to type of circumstance."
That's not uncommon for Saban. Last spring Saban moved wide receiver Christion Jones and former running back Dee Hart to cornerback on an experimental basis.
But the last line of Saban's quote is key, because he may need Stewart—or anyone—to play defensive back considering the roster turnover in the secondary. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Vinnie Sunseri are gone, and the Crimson Tide are also looking for two new full-time starters at cornerback.
Rising junior Landon Collins started at both the strong and free safety positions, which means that not only are there holes to fill in the secondary, there is flexibility with the only returning starter. That gives Saban, defensive coordinator Kirby Smart and the rest of the defensive staff the luxury of getting their best four out there.
Stewart could be a part of that mix.
A 4-star athlete prospect at Fultondale High School in Birmingham, Ala., Stewart played quarterback, wide receiver and safety in high school. One look at his high school tape—most of which is him as a quarterback—and you can see the athleticism he possesses.
He is explosive, can change direction on a dime and has game-breaking speed when he gets into space. If he picks up on things at safety in a hurry this spring, don't be surprised to see this experiment turn into the rule when fall camp starts.
He's moving from a position of depth at wide receiver, which includes veterans Amari Cooper, Christion Jones and DeAndrew White, to a position high on talent but low on experience. There's more opportunity for Stewart to see the field at safety and his team needs someone to step up in that spot.
That could be a recipe for success for Stewart.
Saban said this move was all about finding out if players could step in at positions of uncertainty if he needed them to. Stewart needs to this spring, and that could translate to fall if all goes well in Tuscaloosa.
* Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer for Bleacher Report. All recruiting information is courtesy of 247Sports.
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