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Alabama Crimson Tide 2021 Fall Football Preview: Outside linebackers

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This pass rush has a chance to be terrifying.

NCAA Football: Mississippi State at Alabama The Tuscaloosa News-USA TODAY Sports

Depth at the linebacker position was an area of concern in Tuscaloosa a couple of years ago, but my how times have changed. It isn’t a stretch to say that Alabama’s third team edge rushers would start for most SEC programs, and likely perform well. Finding snaps for all of them will be the main challenge.

The Departed

None.

The Starters

#4 Chris Allen, redshirt senior

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Allen is the elder statesman and de facto leader of this very talented pack. The solidly built 6’4”, 242 lb. fifth-year senior came back to try and improve his draft stock. Allen isn’t flashy, but he is tough and was a steady performer at the position last year.

#31 Will Anderson, sophomore

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship-Ohio State vs Alabama Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The yin to Allen’s yang, Anderson showed himself to be a raw but incredibly explosive player off the edge who would make some huge plays but also had some busts, particularly against the run. Saban has been talking him up during camp, recently saying that Will is a more complete player. This guy has future top 5 draft pick potential if he can harness his ability. He’s that good.

The reserves

#30 King Mwikuta, junior

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Mwikuta epitomizes the depth at this position. in his third year with the program, the #9 WDE in the 2019 class entered the transfer portal over the summer, ostensibly hoping to find immediate playing time. Saban was able to coax him back into the fold, however, and he has been running with the twos in camp. We’ve been hearing good things about the 6’5” King since he arrived on campus. He should get some reps this season.

#20 Drew Sanders, sophomore

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Former five-star prospect Sanders was a recruiting coup for Alabama, as they pulled him away from the Sooners to whom he had been committed. His high school game tape is ridiculous, showing a man who consistently wrecked offensive backfields. He, too, has been rotating with the second team and will look to get meaningful snaps this season.

#41 Chris Braswell, sophomore

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship-Ohio State vs Alabama Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Braswell is yet another five-star who is waiting his turn. Coming out of St. Francis Academy in Baltimore, Chris was the #2 ranked edge rusher in the 2020 class, behind only Anderson. The 6’3” 240 lb. Braswell should get some opportunities this season. He recently became the first football player in the country to launch a cobranded, licensed product with his school.

#34 Quandarrius Robinson, sophomore

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Yet another elite recruit from the 2020 cycle, the lanky 6’5” Robinson from Jackson-Olin high drew comparisons to former Tide star Terrell Lewis. He has yet to see the field in Tuscaloosa and this year will likely be difficult in that regard as well. Robinson was the #65 overall recruit in his class, and he’s running third string as a sophomore.

The newcomers

#15 Dallas Turner, freshman

Turner’s reputation is off the charts, similarly to Anderson’s last season. One of the crown jewels of the Tide’s historic 2021 class, Turner was ranked as the top edge rusher and #9 overall player. He came out of high school at a thick 6’4”, 245 lb. and the power of his bull rush was something to behold on his prep tape. He has reportedly been pushing hard for time in camp and may well pass some of those listed above.

#19 Keanu Koht, freshman

Give Koht credit for looking at the Alabama depth chart and still following his dream to play for the best. It’s not that he isn’t a great prospect as the #59 overall player and #3 edge rusher in the 2021 class, it’s just that he likely has at least two years to wait before seeing meaningful time. Perhaps there will be some understandable attrition ahead of him with the new one-time transfer exception. If he gets to see the field for Alabama, he should be a good one.

Synopsis

This group is as deep and talented as any in the country, and in terms of raw talent would likely rival any position group in the sport’s history. If Pete Golding and Sal Sunseri so desire, they can send waves of pass rushers at offenses to keep legs fresh. Saban has also mentioned that Anderson and Allen can play inside in the rabbits package, leaving open the possibility that as many as four of these guys could be on the field together. That would be a sight to behold.

In any case, this group helping to keep opposing QBs in check would go a long way toward propping up a green offense as it finds its legs. May it be written.

Roll Tide.