Former Alabama outside linebacker Xzavier Dickson had a stellar season in 2014. He led the defense in sacks (nine), tackles for loss (12.5) and quarterback hurries (10). His career at Alabama ends with 91 tackles and 14.0 sacks.
Ryan Anderson, a junior, looks to slide over and assume the role, but sophomore linebacker Rashaan Evans could be the next big time star. Evans, who stands at 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds, saw action in 13 games last season as a true freshman. He recorded 15 tackles with two stops for loss, three quarterback hurries and a sack.
Evans was a game changer on special teams. He put in 12 tackles, tying him for the team lead. His explosiveness on the edge could land him a starting role next season. Evans displays an array of pass rush moves, and continues to learn Alabama’s system under defensive coordinator Kirby Smart.
Evans has had a productive spring. He’s impressed outside linebackers coach Tosh Lupoi with his quickness and aggressiveness as a pass rusher. Saturday could witness him take another step forward, as Alabama will have its second scrimmage game inside Bryant-Denny Stadium at 1:00 p.m.
Evans, an Alabama native, was a marquee name in Auburn’s (Auburn High School) backyard. He showed signs of promise as a versatile linebacker, totaling 77 tackles, 17.5 sacks, five pass breakups, three forced fumbles, a blocked punt and a fumble recovery as a senior in 2013.
His efforts earned him first-team 6A All-State honors from the Alabama Sports Writers Association. Evans enrolled at Alabama as a five-star prospect and one of the top outside linebackers in the nation. Crimson Tide fans are waiting for him to have a breakout season. He has a chance to seize it in 2015.