Every year, we spend countless hours discussing the Alabama scholarship situation and wondering how Nick Saban will fit 25 new players into 20 open slots in the 85-man roster, and every year, it ends up working out. It almost makes me wonder if there is even a point of writing this article. Almost.
But I really just can’t help myself, so here we go.
We know that Minkah Fitzpatrick, Da’Ron Payne, Calvin Ridley, Ronnie Harrison, and Bo Scarbrough are all going pro, while Damien Harris and Isaiah Buggs have said they are returning for a senior season. While it is still possible someone may change their mind, I don’t foresee that happening, so we’ll operate off the assumption of these 5 leaving.
There are also 14 freshmen who signed NLI’s in the early signing period, so I’ll include them as well, with no distinction on if they are an early enrollee or summer enrollee. They’re signed already, and they are on my scholarship count until I hear otherwise. The other unsigned commits will not be counted yet.
Jalen Hurts (Jr), Tua Tagovailoa (So), Mac Jones (RFr)
Running backs- 7
Damien Harris (Sr), Ronnie Clark (RSr), Josh Jacobs (Jr), Najee Harris (So), Brian Robinson (So), Slade Bolden (Fr), Jerome Ford (Fr)
Wide Receivers- 8
Derek Kief (RSr), Xavian Marks (Sr), Jerry Jeudy (So), Devonta Smith (So), Henry Ruggs III (So), Chadarius Townsend (RFr), Tyrell Shavers (RFr), Xavier Williams (Fr)
Tight Ends- 5
Hale Hentges (Sr), Miller Forristall (RSo), Irv Smith (RSo), Major Tennison (So), Kedrick James (So)
Offensive Line- 18
Ross Pierschbacher (RSr), Josh Casher (RSr), Lester Cotton (Sr), Dallas Warmack (Sr), Elliot Baker (RJr), Richie Petitbon (RJr), Brandon Kennedy (RJr), Matt Womack (RJr), Jonah Williams (Jr), Chris Owens (RSo), Deonte Brown (RSo), Scott Lashley (RSo), Alex Leatherwood (So), Jedrick Wills (So), Kendall Randolph (RFr), Hunter Brannon (RFr), Emil Ekiyor (Fr), Tommy Brown (Fr)
Interior Defensive Line- 8
Johnny Dwight (RSr), Isaiah Buggs (Sr), Raekwon Davis (Jr), Quinnen Williams (RSo), LaBryan Ray (So), Phidarian Mathis (RFr), Christian Barmore (Fr), Stephon Wynn (Fr)
Edge Rushers/Outside Linebackers- 11
Christian Miller (RSr), Jamey Mosley (RSr), Anfernee Jennings (RJr), Terrell Lewis (Jr), Ben Davis (RSo), VanDarius Cowan (So), Chris Allen (So), Eyabi Anoma (Fr), Cameron Latu (Fr), Jarez Parks (Fr), Jordan Davis (Fr)
Inside Linebackers- 5
Keith Holcombe (RSr), Josh McMillan (RJr), Mack Wilson (Jr), Dylan Moses (So), Markail Benton (RFr)
Shyheim Carter (Jr), Trevon Diggs (Jr), Jared Mayden (Jr), Saivion Smith (Jr), Nigel Knott (RSo), Kyriq McDonald (RFr), Jalyn Armour-Davis (Fr), Josh Jobe (Fr)
Deionte Thompson (RJr), Keaton Anderson (RJr), Xavier McKinney (So), Daniel Wright (So)
Joseph Bulovas (RFr)
Skyler DeLong (Fr)
Long Snappers- 1
Thomas Fletcher (So)
I took a few guesses as to the positions that the freshmen will play, and whether or not some of last year’s freshmen got a redshirt or not. Either way, the total number should still be the same.
Total it all up, and you get 80 players on scholarship, and there are currently 4 unsigned commits to Bama in LB Quay Walker, DL Bobby Brown, ATH Vernon Jackson, and TE Michael Parker, so there is one more open spot.
However, I fully expect Nick Saban to take more than one more player in the recruiting class. So where might those numbers come from?
The first spot to look at is Jamey Mosley. He’s a former walk-on that earned a scholarship a couple of summers ago, but it’s never been clear if he counts to the number or not. Some have said that the scholarships earned by him and Levi Wallace only counted for the spring semesters, and didn’t matter for the final 85. I don’t have an answer here, but it might be an extra spot.
There are also always a few transfer possibilities. Linebacker Mekhi Brown just announced his decision to transfer yesterday (I already removed him from the count). Running back Ronnie Clark is a 5th year senior with no chance of real playing time, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him hang up his cleats. The same could be said of receiver Derek Kief, offensive lineman Josh Casher, and defensive lineman Johnny Dwight, though those three will all have a shot at maybe winning a vacated role this spring.
Some other possible transfer candidates, based on being passed up by younger players on the depth chart, are Xavian Marks, Elliot Baker, Dallas Warmack, Jalen Hurts, Richie Petitbon, Josh McMillan, Keith Holcombe, Ben Davis, and Keaton Anderson. Of those, I only see Baker and maybe Davis as real possibilities.
So, I’d guess that Alabama takes 3 or 4 more players, in addition to the 4 currently committed but not signed, to round out this recruiting class. Of those, I think at least 2 have to be defensive backs. A safety and a corner, preferably. There are currently only 4 safeties on the roster, and all are sophomores or older. Meanwhile, the corners are oversaturated with 4 juniors to only 4 underclassmen.
The last spot or two should probably go to an inside linebacker and/or a receiver, as those two groups both have less bodies than Saban usually keeps on the roster.
As always, though, we’ll just have to wait and see. Saban always works his magic and things just work out.