Tracking the Tide: Xzavier Dickson

Editor’s note: Each day between now and Alabama's date with Notre Dame in the BCS National Championship, we will review the season for a key Crimson Tide player and attempt to project what’s next for him. Today we’ll look at linebacker Xzavier Dickson.

No. 47 Xzavier Dickson

Outside linebacker

33 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks

Role in 2012: Dickson was the starting Jack linebacker and one of the top pass-rushing threats for the Crimson Tide.

The good: The sophomore had some very large shoes to fill with the departure of Courtney Upshaw, who was picked at the top of the second round by the Baltimore Ravens. While he wasn't as dominant as his predecessor, Dickson filled in admirably considering he recorded just three tackles in seven games last season. The former four-star prospect showed glimpses of the tools necessary to play the Jack position: size, strength, agility and a high motor. He saved his best game of the year for last, tallying two sacks against Georgia in the SEC Championship.

The bad: While Dickson was able to get pressure on the quarterback in some games, others he struggled to get upfield and affect the opposing offense. Consistency has eluded the first-time starter. He'll need to learn to shed tackles better and bring it every week to make the jump from good to elite.

Crystal ball: Just because Dickson started at Jack this season doesn't mean he's destined to continue there next year and beyond. Alabama has recruited linebackers with the tweener linebacker-defensive end mold very well, which means that much more competition. Ryan Anderson, a former four-star who redshirted this season, will have a say. So will Denzel Devall, who was able to make a significant contribution off the bench this season. It's possible recruits like DeMarcus Walker and Jonathan Allen could make a run at early playing time as well.