Playmakers wanted: Defending champ Alabama replacing stars

FILE - In this Sept. 26, 2020, file photo, Alabama coach Nick Saban leads the team to the field before an NCAA college football game against Missouri in Columbia, Mo. Saban and Alabama opened spring practice Friday, March 19, 2021l with an immediate goal. Along with winning another national championship, that is. For now, they need to find replacements for three of college football's top offensive weapons. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson, File)
FILE - In this Sept. 26, 2020, file photo, Alabama coach Nick Saban leads the team to the field before an NCAA college football game against Missouri in Columbia, Mo. Saban and Alabama opened spring practice Friday, March 19, 2021l with an immediate goal. Along with winning another national championship, that is. For now, they need to find replacements for three of college football's top offensive weapons. (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson, File) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Nick Saban and Alabama opened spring practice Friday with an immediate goal. Along with winning another national championship, that is.

For now, they need to find replacements for three of college football's top offensive weapons.

The good news for the Crimson Tide is that, as usual, there are prized recruits waiting in the wings to replace those seemingly irreplaceable stars.

The competition officially commenced with the search for the potential successors to Heisman Trophy-winning wide receiver DeVonta Smith, quarterback Mac Jones and tailback Najee Harris. Jones and Harris also finished in the Top 5 in Heisman voting.

Receiver Jaylen Waddle also departed for the NFL draft, where he's projected as a potential Top 10 pick along with Smith.

Bryce Young, who saw some action as a freshman, is the only quarterback with college experience. The former five-star recruit played in nine games but only attempted 22 passes, completing 13 for 156 yards and a touchdown.

Playing only Southeastern Conference games limited the chances for him to play extended mop-up duties.

“I thought, at times, he was feeling his way out there, not playing with the kind of confidence that we would like for him to play with, but it’s part of his development and he learned from it,” Saban said.