The injury bug usually bites every team over the course of the long season, but Mississippi State and Texas A&M remained healthy and escaped major injuries last season.
But the other five SEC West teams weren’t so luck. Here are 12 players that look to return and make an impact in 2013:
Kenny Bell, WR: Bell was arguably Bama’s top big play receiver before he broke his leg against Auburn. Bell only caught 17 passes for 431 yards with three touchdowns, but he averaged 25.4 yards per catch. He missed the SEC Championship and the national championship.
Chris Black, WR: Black was a top wide receiver prospect – ranked slightly lower than Amari Cooper – in the 2012 recruiting class, but he missed the entire season with a shoulder injury. Black could have played against Georgia and Notre Dame, but the Tide didn’t need him, and he was able to redshirt. Look out for Black in 2013.
Jalson Fowler, H-Back: Fowler was Bama’s jumbo back in 2012 behind Eddie Lacy. He played some running back, full back and H-Back before he suffered a season-ending knee injury against Western Kentucky in the second game. He only had 11 carries for 85 yards and no touchdowns. However, as a sophomore, he carried 56 times for 385 yards and four touchdowns backing up Eddie Lacy and Trent Richardson.
Dee Hart, RB/ST: The former five-star running back found himself suffering two ACL injuries in two seasons. Hart hopes to break into the depth chart and make an impact on special teams in ‘13, but it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see him transfer because of the logjam in Alabama’s backfield.
DeAndrew White, WR: White went down with an ACL injury against Ole Miss in the fifth game. He’s not a game-breaking receiver, but he’s a role player who will make an impact against in ‘13. White caught eight passes for 105 yards and two touchdowns in five games.
Jarrick Williams, S: Williams suffered an ACL injury during preseason camp, and he would have likely been a second-teamer. He was a core special teams player and should slide second into the depth chart upon his return.
Kody Walker, RB: The 240-pound running back Walker went down on a special teams play against Louisiana-Monroe, and he was out for the remainder of the season with a broken leg. He will combine forces with Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins in 2013.
Avery Young, OL: Young started on the offensive line at right tackle as a true freshman before suffering a season-ending surgery that required surgery. Gene Chizik never went into specifics on Young’s injury, but his return is a big lift for Gus Malzahn and the Tigers’ running game in 2013.
Kwon Alexander, LB: Alexander stepped into a big role as a freshman and even started two games before his foot injury. He suffered the injury in the loss against Florida, and he was playing very well through five weeks. Alexander totaled 12 tackles, one forced fumble and one tackle for loss.
Alfred Blue, RB: Blue surprised everyone when he emerged as the starting running back for the Tigers’ stacked backfield in 2012. Blue played in just three games last season before his knee injury against Idaho, racking up two 100-yard rushing performances and two touchdowns. Blue will combine forces with Jeremy Hill and Kenny Hilliard in ‘13.
Collins Moore, WR: Moore tore his labrum in his shoulder during the preseason last year, and he was projected to be a starter alongside Donte Moncrief. Moore caught four passes for 69 yards in 2011. His return, combined with the new impact receivers, gives the Rebels a strong receiving corps for ‘13.
DT Shackelford, LB: Shackelford missed the 2011 season with a knee injury and 2012 for complications recovering from the injury. Shackelford can hopefully get healthy for 2013 and add to his 68 career tackles. He’d be a big lick for the Rebels’ defense.
Photo Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports