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Alabama breakout candidate: WR ArDarius Stewart

Amari Cooper, T.J. Yeldon and Blake Sims are long gone. For that matter, so are Landon Collins and Xavier Dickson.

When the NFL draft came, both sides of the ball at Alabama were depleted. Now the Crimson Tide need more than just one or two players to emerge, they need a few.

Now through Thursday, we'll look at four breakout candidates for the Crimson Tide in 2015, two on offense and two on defense.

ArDarius Stewart, WR, Jr.

The skinny: When Stewart signed on at Alabama as a four-star athlete from nearby Birmingham, there wasn't a clear consensus of what to expect. At 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds, he looked like a receiver with the versatility to play a few different positions. In high school, he played a ton of Wildcat QB and in college his name was thrown around as a possible solution to a depleted secondary. But after redshirting his first year on campus, he settled in nicely at receiver. In 2014, he played in 13 games there, starting twice, with 12 catches for 149 yards.

Those numbers aren't going to blow anyone away, even if you parse them out to find that seven of his 12 catches resulted in first downs. But that was primarily a function of the offense and the depth chart. Heisman Trophy finalist Amari Cooper was Blake Sims' clear No. 1 target at receiver, making everyone look like an afterthought. Meanwhile, there were veterans DeAndrew White and Christion Jones who were higher up the food chain. Now all three receivers are gone, along with Sims, creating a clean slate for everyone in Tuscaloosa.

High expectations: Even in near-misses and inconsequential catches, Stewart showed something last season. If you watched closely, you could see it: He had another gear. When Kenyan Drake was lost for the season against Ole Miss, it was he who offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin turned to as his long-ball threat opposite Cooper. Though he didn't end up with the stats, he made you stand up and take notice. He was able to create separation. He was always so close to taking it to the house.

In 2015, he's expected to make that last man miss, to catch the ball on his fingertips and become Alabama's No. 1 playmaking receiver. And judging by the spring he had, he appears to be ready. Chris Black said then that it was mental for Stewart, noting how he's "definitely playing faster." During A-Day, Stewart put that newfound confidence on display, leading all receivers with eight receptions, which resulted in 118 yards and two touchdowns. His 40-yard TD from Jake Coker in the first quarter on fourth-and-14 was a thing of beauty. The fact he followed that up with a nice 29-yard TD catch in the fourth quarter from Blake Barnett has many believing he's primed for a breakout season.