Alabama Football: Rolando McClain Leads Tide Defense

Michael HicksSenior Analyst IJuly 6, 2008

At the end of the 2007 season, the linebacker position didn't appear to have any issues.

Only two starters needed to be replaced.

Then Ezekial Knight went down with a heart ailment, making him a question mark for the 2008 season.

Prince Hall was then suspended in the spring for a violation of team rules.

If these two were not enough of a loss, the newest addition to the linebacker unit, former running back Jimmy Johns, was arrested for selling cocaine.

Now Alabama has only one starter returning—sophomore Rolando McClain. 

McClain started in nine of the team’s 13 games in his initial collegiate season.

He became the first true freshman since Saleem Rasheed in 1999 to start the season opener at the linebacker spot.

He showed he was more than capable of playing linebacker in the SEC by making 15 tackles in the regular season finale at Auburn and picking off a pass in the second quarter, the first interception of his career.

McClain finished 2007 with 75 tackles and one sack and was named to the 2007 Freshman All-American team.

For the Crimson Tide to be successful in 2008, McClain will have to avoid the "sophomore slump" and lead this defense.

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