SEC position superlatives: Alabama

With more than half of the SEC teams cranking up for spring practice by the end of this week, we’ll kick off our series on the strongest and weakest positions for each team in the SEC.

Up first is defending national champion Alabama:

Strongest position: Running back

Key returnees: Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, Eddie Lacy

Key departures: Roy Upchurch, Terry Grant

The skinny: Is there any school in America that wouldn't trade running backs with the Crimson Tide? They might have the two best backs in the SEC in 2010. Ingram won the school’s first Heisman Trophy last season while rushing for 1,658 yards and scoring 20 touchdowns. His ability to break tackles is what sets him apart. Richardson is probably even more explosive and will no doubt see his carries increase as a sophomore. If they both stay healthy, don’t be surprised if Ingram and Richardson both rush for 1,000 yards next season. Lacey was redshirted last season, but was also highly recruited out of Louisiana. Grant was eligible to come back, but decided not to play his senior season.

Weakest position: Secondary

Key returnees: Mark Barron

Key departures: Javier Arenas, Kareem Jackson, Justin Woodall, Marquis Johnson, Ali Sharrief

The skinny: All told, seven defensive backs who played last season for the Crimson Tide are gone. Making matters worse, there’s an issue with junior safety Robby Green, and he may or may not be eligible next season. He was being counted on to take over at the other safety spot opposite Barron, who led the SEC with seven interceptions last season. Get ready to see a lot of young faces in the secondary next season for the Crimson Tide. Sophomore Dre Kirkpatrick is probably the most talented of the bunch. If you don’t believe so, just ask him. He has everything it takes to be a top cornerback in this league. Highly rated true freshmen DeMarcus Milliner and John Fulton are on campus and going through spring practice, while LSU transfer Phelon Jones also factors into the rotation somewhere.