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Spring non-QB position battle: Alabama outside linebackers

With spring practice underway throughout most of the SEC, we’re taking a closer look this week at the league’s most interesting position battles. The series kicks off today with a preview of Alabama’s outside linebackers.

Departed: Tim Williams, Ryan Anderson

Spring contenders: Redshirt sophomore Mekhi Brown, sophomore Terrell Hall, redshirt sophomore Anfernee Jennings, redshirt freshman Shawn Jennings, redshirt junior Christian Miller, redshirt junior Jamey Mosley

Summer contenders: Incoming freshmen VanDarius Cowan, Markail Benton and Christopher Allen

The skinny: Tosh Lupoi had everything set up for him when he took over as outside linebackers coach in 2015. Veterans Dillon Lee and Denzel Devall were set up as starters at the time, and more importantly he had promising talents Williams and Anderson behind them.

Fast-forward a few years and that core is now gone. Williams and Anderson are on the way out after racking up 39 career sacks between them. Over the past two seasons, they combined to form arguably the most productive pair of edge rushers in college football with 48.5 tackles for loss.

And with the changing of the guard, it’s time to see how Lupoi, who is widely regarded as one of the top recruiters in the SEC, fares with a group of players all his own having worked with the vast majority of them since the day they set foot on campus.

Though the position doesn’t have a household name in the bunch, that doesn’t mean it’s lacking talent or experience. Miller and Anfernee Jennings both played quite a bit as backups last season, and Brown and Mosley saw the field as well.

Two other wild cards not mentioned among the contenders to consider are inside linebackers Rashaan Evans and Dylan Moses. Evans, a senior, actually began his career as an outside linebacker and has the speed to be a threat rushing the passer. The true freshman Moses has similar athleticism and could cross-train at both positions.

Prediction: Miller and Anfernee Jennings were the first two off the bench last season, so go ahead and call them the favorites to appear at the top of the depth chart prior to the season-opener against Florida State. Miller, in particular, could be a stud rushing the passer. But don’t forget about Hall, who played in 11 games as a true freshman. He certainly looks the part of an elite edge player at 6-foot-5 and 247 pounds.