It’s always an annual challenge trying to replace an impact player, but in the SEC, coaches are paid to recruit and develop the next standout athlete in fear of the impending hot seat should seasons turn sour.

Over a two-week period, we’ll take a look at a key player loss for each program in the conference and break down that position’s potential replacements. Rest assured, a few of these guys will be household names by season’s end.

‘Replacing’ Series

Defensive back Landon Collins and pass-rushing force A’Shawn Robinson aren’t the only potential stars on Alabama’s defense this fall.

Senior Trey DePriest, a possible first-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft with a stellar season, has superstar qualities at the linebacker position and is looking to join an elite fraternity of recent Kirby Smart-coached tacklers including Dont’a Hightower, Roland McClain and recent departure, C.J. Mosley.

Mosley, a consensus All-American, left Alabama as the program’s third all-time leading tackler with 319 career stops and recorded 43 more tackles than DePriest in his final season.

RELATED: SEC Top 100 Player Countdown — Trey DePriest

Defensive coordinator Kirby Smart trusts DePriest’s skill set and knowledge of his scheme, but overall inexperience at the position after the 6-foot-2, 250-pound veteran is a cause for concern.

DePriest stepping up as a leader with an increase in production is essential.

“Inside linebacker for us right now is probably one of our thinner positions, with Tana (Patrick) leaving and C.J. leaving,” Smart said recently. “We’ve always had four guys that could play that position, now we’re sitting around and only one or two are really proven to play. We need four guys to be able to play inside linebacker and play well for us.”

DePriest has made 26 starts and played in 40 career games, but after him, Alabama’s relatively unknown at the second level. While junior Reggie Ragland and sophomore Reuben Foster performed well at times, DePriest was one of the only mainstays alongside Mosley who received a substantial number of snaps in 2013.

Those three players should start in the opener against West Virginia with DePriest fitting the possible superstar mold. The fourth linebacker spot in Smart’s 3-4 is yet to be decided.

“Reuben has come a long way,” Smart said. “I think back at Reuben’s first practice and … he looked like a guy lost. He could run fast, play hard, didn’t know what he was doing all the time.”

Still nursing a sore knee, DePriest practiced Monday with a heavily-taped left knee. Freshman linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton continued his excellent camp and is emerging as a player who could really help Smart and the Alabama defense at the position as a first-year performer.

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