Eyabi Anoma thought about leaving Alabama. The former 5 star, #4 overall recruit went so far as to enter the transfer portal. Fortunately, a day later, Anoma decided to stay at Alabama and withdrew his name from the portal, arguably the biggest recruiting win on National Signing Day for Nick Saban and the staff.
Anoma had played sparingly as a true freshman, but his talent flashed and was enough to earn him SEC All-Freshman honors. With the loss of Christian Miller and Jamey Mosley, Anoma, who has just three years of football beyond the youth level under his belt, is in line for a larger role in 2019.
3rd and 5: Anoma (#9) has his hand in the dirt on the left side of the line (he rushed standing up the previous time plays). He jumps off the snap and shows that speed of his; however, Matt Womack (#77), the right tackle, is able to use this against him. A little shove and he’s too far upfield to affect Tua Tagovailoa, who got the ball out quickly anyway.
2nd and 10: Anoma is in the same position. Before, you saw his speed; here, you see his strength. He just bullrushes Womack and knocks him flat on his butt. Unfortunately for Anoma, he doesn’t maintain his footing (and Womack may have held onto his jersey on his way down, too); and he ends up on the ground and out of the play as well.
1st and 10: Emil Ekiyor, the left guard, pulls to the right to block Anoma on this play. Anoma doesn’t use any moves or use his hands or anything; he just rams his shoulder into Ekiyor’s inside shoulder. Not surprisingly, Ekiyor handles this and negates the rush. Anoma does keep his feet churning and tries to push past, but it’s no dice.
3rd and 8: Anoma is on the right side of the line this time, going against left tackle Alex Leatherwood (#70). Anoma gets caught up by Leatherwood on his initial move and is stymied. He doesn’t give up, however, and keeps his eyes on the prize. Anoma manages to disengage with Leatherwood and goes around him. Tagovailoa has been forced back after Anfernee Jennings (#33) forced Womack into the quarterback’s lap, and Anoma reaches around and gets a hand on Tagovailoa. Since it’s A-Day, that’s enough for a sack.
2nd and 7: Let’s see how he looks in run defense. Anoma is standing up, outside the two tight ends on the left side of the offense. Wide receiver DeVonta Smith (#6) motions in tight as well. Miller Forristall (#87) engages Anoma, and Anoma does a nice job of withstanding the initial contact. Anoma turns Forristall until the tight end is facing into his own backfield, and he holds Forristall off at arm’s length, effectively setting the edge. Najee Harris (#22) is forced back inside where he is only able to pick up a handful of yards.
3rd and 4: Anoma is back on the left side now. He charges into Forristall’s chest and is only slowed down for a fraction of a second before shoving Forristall aside. That’s okay for the offense, though, since the pass is designed to go quickly to the other side. Anoma should be able to beat a one-on-one battle with a tight end, but I mainly included this one for the end of the play (and no, not because of Jobe). Anoma started on the complete opposite side and didn’t stop just because the ball went the other way. He kept going to the ball and was right there when Jobe popped up.
1st and 10: Anoma’s on the left side. Womack leaves Anoma for the pulling Ekiyor again, who smashes into him. Anoma bounces off the blow, recovers, and quickly fights past Ekiyor, never taking his gaze from the ballcarrier, Jerome Ford (#27). Anoma gets back and helps Joshua McMillon (#40) and Xavier McKinney (#15) take him down.
1st and 10: Hey, it’s some pass coverage, too! Anoma is standing up on the right side. He starts to follow Forristall, who is flaring out into the flat; but he sees Paul Tyson already starting to throw it to Cameron Latu (#20). Anoma adjuts and jumps, extending his left arm out to block Latu from the ball. The pass was poorly placed to begin with, but Anoma made sure Latu had no shot at it. Give the man the PBU.
1st and 10: Anoma has his hand in the dirt on the right. Deonte Brown (#65), the right guard, is pulling to the left and is supposed to block Anoma to help set up the shotgun counter, a play we saw often last season. Anoma, however, is already too deep for Brown; and the play doesn’t stand a chance. He wraps his arm around Najee Harris’s neck and takes him down for a loss in twirling fashion. For some reason, Christian Barmore is credited with half the tackle for loss even though he only hit Harris after the back was down on the ground. We can see Anoma should get full credit for it, though.
1st and 10: Anoma’s on the right, going up against Leatherwood again. Xavier McKinney creeps down to the line, showing blitz. Leatherwood tries to help with Anoma, who is rushing inside, before turning his attention to McKinney, who is coming from the outside. Chris Owens (#79) is at left guard after starting the game at center, and he is too slow moving to his left. He gets a hand on Anoma; but the outside linebacker blows through the two offensive lineman and gets a hit on Tagovailoa, who just has to heave the ball deep.
3rd and 11: Anoma is back on the left. I’m pretty sure Amari Kight (#78) is the right tackle here. Anoma gets chipped by the tight end Daniel Powell (#43); but he recovers and gets both hands in Kight’s chest, knocking the true freshman backwards. Anoma sees Tyson going to throw it, and he leaps up and bats the ball away to force fourth down.