During the summer, TideNation will analyze each of the scholarship players on the Alabama roster -- excluding the Tide's 2013 recruiting class -- in our Crimson Countdown series. Starting with No. 1 Dee Hart, we will go through the roster numerically, finishing with No. 99 Brandon Ivory.
No. 27 Nick Perry
Expectations for 2013: It's now or never for Perry, who has spent his career primarily as a backup and utility player on defense. The senior started four games and registered 38 tackles last season, and with Robert Lester now off to the NFL, the opportunity exists for him to step up and do even more. Perry is the purest free safety on the roster, meaning he is best in coverage, something Alabama will need given its lack of depth at cornerback.
Best-case scenario: You either know Nick Saban's defense or you don't. And after three years of studying it, Perry knows how the Alabama head coach's complex system operates, inside and out. That more than anything gives him an advantage in the competition at safety. Because while Saban values talent, he craves dependability. After all, Lester was hardly the most gifted safety at Alabama, yet he started three seasons.
Worst-case scenario: He has the edge in ball skills over Vinnie Sunseri and the edge in experience over Landon Collins, his two biggest competitors for the spot starting opposite Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix. But Perry, who has never had an interception and batted down just two passes all of last season, needs to make more plays to earn the spot outright, something both Sunseri and Collins excel at doing.
Future impact: As he did last season, Perry is likely to platoon as a starter safety while also playing plenty of snaps at either inside cornerback positions for the Tide in 2013. Collins is the future of the safety position, but until he shows he's capable of handling the responsibility of a starter, it's Perry's to hold.